Docks can be very simple and functional, or elegant and elaborate. Of course, the first considerations when figuring out what kind of dock is right for you are budget, the weather conditions and the water depth. A dock is a major investment and improvement to a lakefront, and careful planning can help ensure that your dock suits your lifestyle.
Guidelines for Designing a Permanent Dock
For those lake lovers lucky enough to have waterfront property in a place where temperatures and water depth allow for a permanent dock, a dock can be made into a wonderful casual entertaining area. The considerations for permanent dock design are unique, and quite complex. First, you have to decide where the dock will be situated. It needs to have easy access to land, as it is your path to the water. You will end up having lots of guests who use the dock with you, so you will want to make sure that they do not have to struggle to “board” your dock. The dock should be situated in the water so that during the highest or lowest water level fluctuations your boat can be put into the water, if this is possible. A permanent dock is a major investment, so you need to make sure that you know the history of water levels for the lake you are building on.
Other Dock-Specific Design Considerations
The next considerations in placement and design of a dock are a bit less essential, but are quite important to your enjoyment of it. Before you make your final determination on the exact placement and size and shape of your dock, you need to think about how you intend to use it. Some questions that you might want to put on your checklist are:
- Do you need room for visitors to tie up boats to your dock? If so, how can you provide this in a way that their boats are safe from passing traffic?
- Will you need a place on the dock where the water is deep enough to jump in and swim, away from any boats? Is the passing boat traffic going to endanger swimmers near your dock? If so, can you position your dock in such a way that it provides shelter for swimmers?
- Do you want to be able to sunbathe? If so, how many hours will you have sun on the dock in a day?
- How much room will you need for deck chairs and lounge chairs?
- Do you need a covered area with a table for eating, or chairs to allow guests a respite from the sun? The dock is another outdoor living area, like a deck or patio, and some of the same types of questions need to be asked when deciding the design.
Another consideration is the view. While one can argue that there are no “bad” views on a lake, you may want to make sure that you make the best of the view that you have available. What about the neighbors? Will the dock you want block their views or cause traffic problems for them?
Factors of the environment and your use of the dock should ultimately help you determine its design.