What lake home owners should know about boat dock types

What lake home owners should know about boat dock types

Waterfront homes are some of the most sought-after real estate in the U.S.

On a national level, homes along lakeshores are generally worth twice as much as overall homes, according to Zillow. Those values have only gone up over time, too.

It’s easy to understand why. Private access to a lake or other body of water comes with many wonderful recreational benefits and beautiful views throughout the year.

Add a boat dock or fishing pier and opportunities for recreation activities increase even more. The addition of a dock also will likely boost the property value, too.

But what are the best types of docks for lake homes? Let’s take a quick look at the different types of docks and determine which type makes the most sense for your lakefront residence.

Decide how will the dock be used most

A dock’s design and features come down to how the owner will use it most. If the dock is meant simply as a place to store your boat, then you won’t need much more than a structure large enough to comfortably (and safely) enter and exit the boat. However, you may want to add space for multiple boats if you plan on entertaining and offering visitors access to the dock.

If you enjoy swimming - or have children who become more like fish in the spring and summer months - then you will want to make sure the dock is equipped with features that make the activity easier and safer. This includes ladders, railings and perhaps even benches - all of which are popular dock accessories that can be added to make your dock a little more unique.

Those same accessories can lend themselves to fishing or entertaining in general just as well as they do swimming. Just make sure you go with a dock that still leaves room for your boat, or boats, and allows enough space for those other activities, as well.

The basics docks: floating and stationary

Preferences for floating or stationary docks vary widely by property owner. Both of these basic dock types have their own pros and cons. There are also several other dock styles that may not be as common, but could still be a good fit for your needs.

Floating docks

For example, floating docks are not attached to the lake bottom, so they can adjust better to lakes that may experience varying water levels throughout the year. Floating docks are also easy to install, easily expanded, quickly customized and are very durable, with little to no regular maintenance needed.

On the other hand, floating docks are more susceptible to rough water conditions or flood-stage water levels. That could result in some damage over time or in high flood levels. They also move much more than a stationary dock, so they are best for getting in and out of boats or only having a small number of people on them at a time.

Stationary docks

Stationary docks are actually attached to the lake bottom, making them steadier and more stable than floating docks. Many fishing piers are stationary so they don’t move as much and are more ideal for spending longer stretches of time on.

Stationary docks are sometimes cheaper than floating docks, too. They are also better for larger numbers of people since they do not sway.

However, stationary docks must be built high enough above the water to withstand water levels when the lake is up or flooded. They could be hard to use or unusable in extreme flooding conditions, though.

Other dock styles

If you are not sure you want a dock that has steel pilings driven into the ground, but also don’t want a floating dock, then you can compromise with a pipe dock. This style has legs that simply stand on the lake bottom, offering stability while not being as permanent.

Additional dock types to consider are docks that can be lifted up out of the water when not in use or in the off-season. There are also roll-in versions.

Ask your dock dealer what’s best

When you are ready to start shopping for a dock, do your research on local providers and do not be afraid to ask them questions about what type of dock may be right for your property.

Walk these dealers through your vision for the ideal dock and see how they can come up with a solution that works - and if that solution fits within your budget.

As with many property investments, you want your dock to be made of quality materials and have a reasonable lifespan. Question dock dealers and installers about the type of materials they use. Ask them why, too. It never hurts to get curious.

You will soon find out that there are several types of materials that work well for docks, each with their own characteristics and quirks - some positive and others perhaps negative.

Local rules and regulations may apply

Whenever you are investigating installing a new dock - or making changes to your existing structure - you should always check with local city, county and state regulations - depending on what entity has jurisdiction in enforcing waterbody rules.

Lake home owners should always give that government body a call to ask about rules that may influence their dock decisions. Many officials will gladly help answer your questions - and they will appreciate your proactive approach in trying to prevent issues for them down the road.

You could also ask your realtor or neighbors what you need to know about installing a dock.

If you don’t do your research, you could be stuck with a dock that does not meet regulations. That could lead you to fines and back to square one in your planning process.

Request a quote for your new dock

Find the right dock design for your property by requesting a free quote. Our team at VW Docks can walk you through our custom solutions for your needs, residential or commercial.

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