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Should a Home Inspector or Marine Contractor Inspect My Dock?

Should a Marine Contractor or Home Inspector inspect your dock/seawall?

I recently came across an article titled “marine dock inspections” and about half the article talked about why you should have a marine contractor inspect your dock and not a home inspector.

Now, I may be biased, but I felt the article did not accurately discuss their argument. Moreover, I think there are other sides to the argument that they did not cover.

So, I thought it would be important if we covered this: should a marine contractor or a home inspector inspect your dock/seawall?

Let’s Begin.

Marine Contractors

For Marine Contractors

Now, obviously a marine contractor builds docks and seawalls for a living so of course, in general, they should be more knowledgeable about the construction compared to home inspectors.

So point 1 goes to marine contractors.

Against Marine Contractors

Although marine contractors are more knowledgable this comes at a cost. Because marine contractors build docks and seawalls they will do one of two things:

  1. They will offer you a free or cheaper inspection in the hopes they can sell you on repairs, maintenance, or replacement.
  2. They will charge a lot more money for a dock/seawall inspection since they are more experienced.

Therefore, while home inspectors are unbiased, marine contractors are biased. They have an incentive to stress that your dock needs repairs.

So let’s take away 1 point from marine contractors.

Total Score = 0.

Home Inspectors

Arguments for Home Inspectors

Home Inspection companies are ONLY inspection companies. Their business thrives on delivering unbiased, accurate opinions. The more accurate and unbiased opinion they deliver, the better the inspection company!

Therefore, you can count on a home inspector to give you the straight up facts about the condition of the structure, whether good or bad.

Point 1 for Home Inspectors.

Arguments Against Home Inspectors


Many marine contractors will say home inspectors are not qualified to inspect docks and seawalls. While I will admit that some home inspectors should not be inspecting docks or seawalls on their own, these inspectors just need more experience and more education.

Furthermore, quite frankly, it is not enough to just take a few classes and complete a few inspections. You must be versatile in all different types of seawalls, docks, ages, and damage types. For instance, if you do not see new sod/soil near a seawall as a red flag, you need more experience.

However, the funny thing is, there is no set qualification in Florida to inspect docks and seawalls (Florida does have marine contractor licensing). This means any person who wants to start a business in inspecting docks/seawalls can do so (in the State of Florida)!

So, are home inspectors too generalized and inexperienced to inspect your dock/seawall? Yes and No.

A good inspection company offers experienced inspectors. Therefore, as long as homeowner chooses a home inspection company that is highly rated and has been in business a long time, you are in good shape.

On the other hand, inexperienced home inspectors that may not be in business that long might be more of a liability to you.

Final Point

I wanted to make one last point on experience. While marine contractors build and repair, inspectors inspect. That being said, should marine contractors complete an inspection?

It takes a different perspective to inspect something rather than build something. An inspector understands how materials behave over time and together. Furthermore, they know how to convey that message in a easy to read report for buyers.

On the flip side, marine contractors understand the build process and how to work their hands. They may not necessarily understand how to convey an opinion about a dock lasting overtime in a report format that is delivered in a relatively quick timeframe like a home sale.

With all the above said, I took away a point from home inspectors. But then, I added one back since they are versed in inspections, report delivery, and straightforward communication.

Total Score = 1.


Marine Contractors are licensed and experienced in marine construction like docks and seawalls. However, this does not mean they will complete a good inspection for you. Because they build/repair docks and seawalls, they may try to upsell you on other services when you do not necessarily need it. Also, they may not be well trained in completing inspections.

Home inspectors, while not licensed marine contractors, can still receive training and experience from engineers, classes, and on-the-job training. Moreover, their adept skills in inspections make them masters of delivering unbiased, accurate information for homeowners/buyers.

Who do you trust to do your dock and seawall inspection? Comment below.

Visit our dock and seawall page. Learn more about dock inspections.