Tommy Docks: Do You Need a Permit to Build a Dock?
Tommy Docks: Do You Need a Permit to Build a Dock?

One question a lot of waterfront property owners have is what goes into building a dock. On top of the actual dock itself, local and neighborhood rules might dictate different things for whether or not you’re able to go ahead with your new project. It’s exciting to get a dock built on the water but it’s a huge headache to start the project and then find out you need to tear it down. Here’s what you need to know about getting a permit to build a dock on your property.

Dock Permits: Who Needs to Obtain One?

A dock permit may be necessary if you have specific policies indicating the need for one from your state, your homeowner association, or local ordinances. For example, you might live in a state that doesn’t require permits and your city or town might not care either. If you’re in an HOA, however, there’s likely a rule about new construction projects over a certain size or space limitation. 

Instead of just hoping for the best, make sure to do the research. Start big and move into smaller regulations. First, check your state’s regulations, then check with the county you live in and even the city. HOA rules are going to be specific, so if you do belong to one, check here too. It’s easy to search for these things and necessary if you want to avoid getting in trouble. 

Dock permits come in handy for several reasons. For example, some people build new projects and then fail to keep up maintenance. Likewise, some cities and states have permits for any sort of outdoor project that is visible to the public. While some states only require one permit, others require none or multiple.

Common Requirements for Dock Permits

You’ll need to look into your specific property and where you live to get a real answer about whether or not you need a dock permit. That said, many permits about building a dock come with some pretty standard requirements. These often include things found here in Wisconsin include:

  •     Size restrictions
  •     Limitations of the dock’s use (no marina or business utility without permission)
  •     Water access from the dock
  •     Length limitations concerning property owned by the builder
  •     Accessibility to permit if requested by enforcement officers

 When it comes to other considerations, a local permit requirement might involve consideration for the type of water you’re on and the life living in that body of water. Likewise, you probably don’t plan on using your dock to cause damage to your property, but many extend into water owned by the town or city in which you live. That means you’ll need to likely consider buying insurance on the dock and its surroundings if your state requires it.

Is a Dock Permit All That Important?

If a dock permit is required where you live, then it might just seem important from a legal perspective. In reality, however, dock permits are important because they keep safety and sound structure in mind. Just like building a DIY dock with Tommy Docks, a dock permit ensures you’re happy with the final product and that it’s safe to use. 

There’s nothing better than buying a waterfront property and building the dock of your dreams. Just make sure you have the necessary permit to do so and then you can get started on what’s sure to be a successful project.

Want to learn more?

If you’re interested in learning more, we invite you to check out our Frequently Asked Questions or give us a call at 715-842-3804.

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