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Cost to Build a Boat Dock : What You Need to Know

Cost to build a boat dock

Houses by the water are amazing and the view is beautiful. If you are looking for a home by the water and there is a dock, you are lucky! If not, you may need to build one. What is the cost to build a boat dock? It depends on the material that is used and the difficulty to install. They range from $1000 to $75,000. Maybe the home has a boat dock already? If it does, that is great! However, you do want to have an inspection before purchase. If you find there are a lot of issues, you may need to build one again.

Let’s take a look at why you need to know the cost to build a boat dock, types of boat docks, building your own boat dock, an inspection of the boat dock, what is checked, cost of the inspection, what the environment does to the dock, maintenance, the seller of waterfront property, other areas to check, and when to call a professional.

Why You Need to Know the Cost to Build a Boat Dock

It is important to know the cost of a dock so you can see if it fits in your budget. There are various materials that can be used for docks and also companies in various parts of the U.S. will charge different rates. Also, before starting any project, check with zoning boards to see if the type of dock you want to install is allowed in your area. Take a look below at the various types of docks.

Floating dock
Floating Dock

Types of Boat Docks

There are several types of docks with various materials. Let’s take a look

Floating Docks

A floating dock is decking that is over airtight barrels or drums. They float in the water and best used in lakes or where the water is still and moves up and down. They are not good in places like rivers or the ocean because the water is continuously flowing. It is easier to maintain, costs about $25-35 per square foot.

piling dock

Piling Docks

These are built with wooden pilings and very sturdy. Unlike the floating dock, they stay in one place and held together with wooden beams. They are aesthetically pleasing to look at. Ranging from $20-40 per square foot, they can be even higher with features added on. More difficult to install than a floating dock, but they allow the owner to add electrical components to it for a boat lift or moorings.

Pipe Dock

This resembles the piling docks but uses plastic piping instead. It is best for shallow water and uses a prefabricated pipe. They range from $1000-2000 but that doesn’t include the installation which may add on another $1000. A pipe dock is better for those looking to have a fishing dock or a place to lounge. It is not ideal for a boat.

Crib Docks

This type of dock uses a large container with rocks and then has decking put on top of it. It is good to use in water less than 10 feet. The most expensive type of dock as it is depends on the size, boardwalk, decking, and installation. A wooden underwater frame holds it all together and it looks like a man-made island. In some environments, it can last many years and never need replacing.

Suspension Dock

A suspension dock is like a suspension bridge and hangs over the water. A professional or homeowner will find it to be complicated and take a long time as it needs plans drawn by an engineer. The positives of this dock are it has a low environmental impact and is aesthetically pleasing. The negatives are that they are expensive and difficult to build. They work well in areas with an underwater ecosystem that is fragile and also with lower water levels.

Now you know the type of dock that sounds good to you. However, think about the climate, the depth of water, if flooding is possible, and your budget. These factors may make your decision easier or more difficult.

Building Your Own Boat Dock

If you are thinking about building a dock on your own, here is a guide. However, we do recommend using a professional.

boat dock

Inspection of the Boat Dock

Why and what is a boat dock inspection? A dock is subject to the environment and weather makers and it is hard to tell what is going on with it structurally without an inspection. It is different than a home inspection and requires a different inspector. A dock inspection also involves looking at structural components, utility systems, and appurtenances. An underwater inspection is also needed. A home inspector can do a visual inspection but a more extensive one will need to be done by a marine inspector.

Why do you need the dock inspected? It needs inspecting in order to close out the permit and for safety issues. If you live in a home that already has a dock or looking to buy a home with a dock, an inspection is important.

What is Checked in a Boat Dock Inspection

A major dock inspection should be every five years and a visual inspection every year according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. The areas that are checked as mentioned above are the structural components, utility systems, and appurtenances.

A home inspector will view the dock from the ground, instead of from the water. Here is a list of what the inspector will look for. It is worth your time to go to the inspection so you can find out what needs fixing or what to monitor. If it is found there may be more extensive damage, an inspector will recommend you find a marine inspector to take a look more thoroughly from the water.

Cost of a Boat Dock Inspection

A dock inspection can cost $50 -100 if combined with a home inspection. If it is separate, it can be a few hundred dollars. Later in the blog we talk about how to find a good home inspector and when you are looking for one, ask if they do dock inspections to save you some money.

What the Environment Does to the Boat Dock

The environment and mother nature can wreck havoc on a dock. Here are some examples:

  • Undermining caused by natural erosion
  • Hydrostatic Pressures
  • Poor Drainage
  • Soil pH Balance
  • Wood Boring Insects
  • Wear and Tear Suffered During Hurricane Season
  • Inadequate Original Installation
  • Corrosion from Water and Sand
  • Rot and General Deterioration

Maintenance of the Boat Dock

Yearly Maintenance

Yearly, take a look to see if the dock needs repainting. Doing this can help extend the life of the structure. Also, it helps with rot resistance as rot can wear down a deck or any structure faster.

Wood decking requires more maintenance than aluminum decking. It has oils and tannins to keep the insects and decay from moving in but also needs a good power washing every year. This is especially true if it has a lot of bird poop on it as well. Every three to four years it will be a good idea to stain the wood. In addition to rotting, unfortunately, this type of material can warp, decay, and twist if not taken care of.

Aluminum material seems to do well and requires very little maintenance.

Waterfront home

When You Are the Seller of Waterfront Property With a Dock

If you are the seller of waterfront property with a dock, you can do a pre-listing home inspection. As stated above, the home inspector can do a visual dock inspection, but you can also hire a marine inspector to inspect the dock more thoroughly. This will be a win-win for you as the seller and for the buyer.

What is the benefit of a pre-listing inspection? You find out the areas that need fixing as they will come up in the buyer’s home inspection report and you can decide if you want to fix them or not. Additionally, it often makes the process of selling a home go faster, and there are no negotiations. Lastly, you will also find out what needs fixing or to monitor on the dock from the marine inspector.

How to Choose a Home Inspector

Not sure how to choose a home inspector? Take a look here at what makes a good one!

If the home inspection report shows there are necessary repairs for the home or the dock, you can walk away.

sea wall

Other Areas to Check

If you have a seawall, you will need to check that to make sure it is intact and doesn’t need replacing. Also, many homes on the water also have a swimming pool. If you notice you are losing 1/4 inch of water or more per day, you need to perform the bucket test with the directions here. You may notice soggy grass or pooling water so it is important to check it before summer so you can fix any issues.

The soggy grass or pooling water or even sink holes in the yard can signal a water leak underground. Get this looked at immediately as there can be other issues lurking.

When to Contact a Professional

Contact a professional if you need a dock inspected, notice any issues around the dock, or want to build a dock. An inspector with experience will be beneficial to you.


If you are one of the lucky ones to have a dock with a home, you want to preserve it as long as possible. It is expensive to repair or replace so keeping an eye on it and maintenance is the way to go. Call Waypoint Property Inspection to inspect your home in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Orlando, Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, and surrounding areas.