5125 Hwy. 321 N., Suite G.
Lenoir City, Tennessee 37771
Fax: 865-986-9115
LakeSource, LLC.


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Building on Water

�Considerations for a Boat Dock� 

by Bill Drerup, Sales Representative, LakeSource, L.L.C

Like building a house, designing and building a boat dock is a project that requires much planning and decisions.

  • What kind of boat? 
  • How large? 
  • What does it weigh? 
  • How large of a dock? 
  • Design/functions? 
  • Where to locate it on the shoreline? 
  • How much sun exposure do you desire? 
  • What material? 
  • Which builder?
  • How much to budget? 
  • And many other considerations.

For many new residents, a life long dream is the ability to move to a recreational community, build a home and enjoy the lake.  The lake provides us with the beauty, serenity and the means for many hours of enjoyment.  One should have some type of idea about their boating needs before starting a dock. 

To simplify the task, boats can normally be classified into two groups. The first group has a beam width of  8�6� or less, weighs less than 5,600# and can be transported on the highway via a trailer without a special permit. The most common dock for boats in this group has a 11� wide by 27� long boatwell with a 5,600# or 7,000# lift capacity. The second group is larger boats requiring special dock provisions.  In this article we will focus on boats in the first group.

The type of boat, i.e. pontoon, deck, speed or ski boat, is not critical in designing the dock but needs to be identified before you finalize the contract. Some of the most important design criteria is how you plan to use a dock.

  • Do you plan to entertain on it?

  • Do you plan to have a table and chairs? 
  • Do you want a covered section to provide shelter from the sun and rain? 

These elements will help a reputable marine contractor assist you in developing a proposal to meet your needs.

Dock permits are controlled / issued by the local community (i.e. Tellico Village ACC, Rarity Bay, etc), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Corp of Engineers.  Both Fort Loudon and Tellico lakes are navigational bodies of water and are subject to federal standards and control.  Permits for docks require a fee of $200.  Larger docks tend to be specially designed and built, often for two boats.  Also electrical permits are required by the State of Tennessee to run electricity to a dock.  This permit needs to be obtained by a certified / registered electrician from your local utility board.

Selection of your marine contractor should not be taken lightly.  Like selection of your home builder, not all companies are equal and their products may look �good� when initially built, but how will it withstand use and the elements?  

  • What is the history of the company? 
  • What is their warranty? 
  • Are they willing to give you a list of references / past customers which you can contact? 
  • What type of insurance do they have?

Like building a home there are various types of materials available today.  The majority of the docks in this area are constructed with treated lumber that is designed for 40 year ground contact.  New, synthetic material such as Trex, ChoiceDek and others are being specified by individuals that desire a maintenance free dock.  These materials are available at a premium price and could have an impact on the decking design since they have thermal expansion and are less rigid than wood.

Boat lifts are available in various capacities, the most popular being a �5,600 pound lift.� Another item that you may want to consider is a closet to store boating equipment.  The maximum size of a closet, in most communities,  is 32 sq. ft. (TVA standard).  Future personal watercraft lifts need to be included in the initial dock design because they are included in the square foot limits.  Hawser posts with rope or railing, cupola,  swim steps and swim ladders are common items added to enhance the use and look of a dock.

Homeowner�s tend to design their waterfront homes for the view of the water as well as  �curb appeal� from the water.  One should design their dock to compliment their house and landscaping. When living on the water one should remember that not all of your company / friends come to the front door and you tend to spend more time and entertain on the water.

Like building a house, collect your ideas, talk with friends, evaluate the builders and type of docks available and consider project timing. The approval process for a dock can take up to 2 months and a reputable marine contractor will have a back-log of up to 4 months.

Good luck with your project.

Bill Drerup, Sales Representative

LakeSource LLC


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