If you own property on a pond, lake, river, marsh, or inlet, adding a dock to your sliver of shoreline is a great way to increase accessibility and make boating easy and effortless. No more traveling down to the marina or having to drop in at a public boat ramp. You can keep your boat in the water during the entire boat season, if you’d like.
As beneficial and versatile as boat docks are, there are many different schools of thought. As you consider adding one to your property, you’ll need to work through some of this information. Here are a few specific things to consider:
While you probably shouldn’t be laser-focused on cost the entire time you’re dock “shopping,” it’s absolutely imperative that you begin with a rough budget in mind.
Boat docks can vary dramatically in price. You can find options that you simply slip into the water and tie down for just a couple thousand dollars. However, if you pay someone to build a custom dock with lots of upgrades and advanced features, you could be looking at paying somewhere between $10,000 and $30,000. In other words, there’s a huge spread.
By setting a loose budget up front, you can narrow your options down to what’s practical and what’s unrealistic.
- Pre-Fab vs. Custom
There are two basic options with boat docks. You can purchase a pre-fab dock that gets delivered to your property, or you can hire a contractor to come out and build one for you.
Pre-fab boat docks – like these from Wholesale Marine – are a great option for people with small watercrafts in calm/shallow bodies of water (like ponds or small lakes). They’re extremely easy to use and very cost-effective.
Custom boat docks allow you to design and build a dock that fits your specific needs. From materials to layout to size, you get a say in everything. It does, however, come at a steep premium.
- DIY vs. Professional
The next thing to consider is whether you’ll be doing your own dock building/installation, or if you’ll hire someone to do the work for you. It ultimately comes down to how much time you have, what your level of expertise is, and what you’re willing to spend. (If you’re thinking about going the DIY route, be sure to do plenty of research on the front end. Even if you’re an experienced handyman, building a boat dock comes with a litany of unique challenges.)
- Stationary vs. Floating
There are two primary types of docks. You have stationary docks, which are permanent structures built on wood or concrete piles that are sunk into the bottom of the lakebed. Then there are floating docks, which rest on the surface of the lake and have some movement in them. They rise and fall with the water level and can even be taken out for winter storage. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong choice, but you’ll have to make the decision sooner rather than later.
- Shoreline Considerations
What kind of shoreline and water conditions are you working with? Depending on how much water levels fluctuate, whether the water freezes in the winter, and the conditions of your shoreline (soft soil, rocky, etc.), you’ll find that certain options are more conducive to your situation.
- Material Selection
Finally, think about what kind of materials you want to use to construct your dock. Whether you’re purchasing a pre-fab option or you’re building your own, you’ll find a variety of options. From pressure-treated wood to aluminum to composites, there’s an option for any need.
You’ll also want to consider how the dock will be attached and secured. Will there be piles, stakes, tie-downs, or various suspension elements? Do you want features like a boatlift? There’s a lot to think about.
Choose the Dock That’s Right for You
You won’t find a one-size-fits-all dock. Every situation is different. You’ll have to consider your boating needs, shoreline requirements, local conditions, cost, time, labor, and a handful of other factors. Take your time and don’t feel rushed into making a quick decision. A boat dock is an investment and you’d be smart to carefully consider all options before finalizing your approach.