Once you’ve found a functional plan for your boathouse, you can begin construction either yourself or with a dedicated company. Boathouses will sit on top of the dock, integrating it into either an existing dock space or requiring the dock to be built first.
As is the case with any large-scale construction project, heavy machinery is going to be involved. The difference is, often times, these machines will be floating, such as barges with winch mounts, pile drivers, and more. There’s going to be a lot of moving parts and a lot of juggling schedules around, so be prepared; a simple boathouse can become complicated quickly.
What to Expect when Building a Dock
Building a Boathouse
When the dock is constructed, a large space will be left where the boathouse will be built. Now that there is a platform, the boathouse construction can begin. Start with anchor posts in the corners of where the boathouse will be constructed; the frame can take shape with these in place. The roof frame will be assembled, resting the weight on the surrounding anchor posts.
The roof should be the next step and can be completed with whichever roofing material is best for your job and budget. Many boathouse owners use a metal roof as the shingles can easily detach and wind up in the water. Corrugated steel roof panels, on the other hand, are durable, long-lasting, and require little maintenance to keep it in shape.
If your boathouse utilizes a boatlift, the I-beams will be placed before the rest of the boathouse is constructed. Using a drive shaft, the I-beams are secured in place so that they can lift the water out of the water or set it down into the water without moving the roof frame more than it has to.
The rest of the boathouse is built based on personal preferences. Many choose to forgo having enclosed features or walls, especially if it’s being added to an existing dock. Having only the anchor beams gives your boathouse a simple appearance that still looks like a professionally-designed boathouse.
Other owners will want an enclosed boathouse, especially if it has been built on private property. This way, storage options can be installed for lifejackets, fishing gear, and other boating accessories. This way, your boathouse can be more like a boat garage, with everything you need in one convenient location for your fun day out.
Tips to Remember during Dock Construction
Just as you would regularly give your deck or patio a once-over, a dock can significantly benefit from a little TLC and winter prep.
A quick power washing will remove any top surface contaminants like mold, mildew, salt, and other grime from seeping deeper into the wood. Once the dock's deck has been properly washed, a top coat of stain and/or paint can be used to seal it. Even if you sealed your dock within the last few years, it never hurts to do it again, especially if there’s going to be a chance of a cold snap. The sudden change in temperature can cause premature weathering and rot, and every little bit helps to stretch your dock’s useful life.
Remove the Dock
Taking another page out of our northern neighbor’s playbook, if you have an easily removable dock, you may want to remove and store it for the winter. Many freshwater docks are designed with a series of removable pins, allowing storage in the colder seasons. While they may need to take their docks down by later autumn, you may be able to wait a smidge longer here in the Sunshine State.
The bad news is, it’s going to take a little elbow grease, and may even take a few days to do. The good news? You’ll have peace of mind that you won’t need to replace your dock simply because it randomly dropped into the 30s last night. Piling docks are obviously best to be left alone. Down south, we don't have to worry about lakes freezing, so, chances are, you’ll be fine leaving your standing docks alone, albeit with a little extra maintenance come spring time.
Don’t Undo Hurricane Prep
What Gulf Coast states such as Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida lack in snow days, we just may make up with a late-striking hurricane. Yes, the hurricane season begins in summer, but you never know when you might have a hurricane in late November, or even in early December. If you have extra hurricane prep items, tools, and accessories, it’s best just to keep them in place during winter if possible. Realistically, no matter how good you’ve been, Santa probably won’t bring you a new boat. By ensuring your boat is well secured, either with a helical anchor or with a dock with tall pilings, you can rest assured knowing that your boat damage would be minimized, and more importantly, prevent your dock from sustaining problems as well. It’s all too common for boats to be tossed into their docks during hurricane season, and sometimes that lasts well into winter.
Use the Right Dock Product
It may seem obvious, but many dock owners, especially new ones, think that any wood sealant is sufficient. However, marine-specific sealants are ideal for protecting wood from salt water and from mold and mildew. Even with pressure treated wood, a marine sealant should be applied every six months to a year to keep it from weathering and splintering.
Hire Us For Your Needs
When you’ve exhausted all of your at-home options or aren’t sure where to begin, you can hire us. We’ll provide your dock and pilings with a free inspection and let you know the best way to preserve your dock all winter long. While we may not have experience with ice and snow, we’re the Gulf Coast’s best choice.