Whether you’re retiring to a life on the lake, or just starting your family and want to raise your kids on the water, having access to a boat on the lake can change your life for the better. If you’re in the market for a lake home, one of the most important features to consider is your dock. A key element of lakeside real estate, prospective buyers may not take their dock options into consideration. Fortunately, a licensed realtor like myself, who is experienced in waterfront property, can help you understand and explore those options and find the perfect home. Lake Lanier homes are spread out along the water with private docks housing boats, floats, and water toys. Cruising your boat through our beautiful lake waters on a typical weekend day, you will see many homeowners enjoying their private docks: sunbathing, dining al fresco, or simply watching the watercraft go by. Some neighborhoods will share a community dock and you will notice plenty of activity with boats coming and going. If you’re in the market for real estate on Lake Lanier, you should be prepared with knowledge that community docks and private docks each have their pros and cons, so let’s compare and contrast both types to help you decide which works best for you.

First, The Facts:

  • The majority of docks on Lake Lanier are floating docks due to fluctuating water levels and can be easily adjusted. You can read more about lake levels in my blog, “Why Lake Levels Matter When Purchasing or Listing Your Home
  • All docks must be approved and permitted by the Corps of Engineers.
  • The largest private dock approved by the Corps is 32’X32’.
  • New private dock permits are no longer being issued by the Corps – if there is no current dock permit for the property then it is unlikely that one could obtain a new permit.
  • When purchasing a new lake home, private dock permits must be renewed by the new homeowner following the closing.
  • For permit application and fees, click this link.

Private Docks

Private docks have improved in many ways over the years and there are many different options to choose from. The types of private docks include boat houses, single slip and double slip docks. There are three main types of private docks:

  1. Boat Houses – These enclosed docks feature fully constructed hipped or gabled roofs to protect your boat from the elements. Boat house roofs may also be constructed as an additional deck for sunbathing or parties!
  2. Single Slip – This “U” shaped design allows your boat to “slip” in, protected and accessible from all three sides.
  3. Double Slip – Featuring two slips, this dock provides you a second space. Maybe one is your pontoon boat for entertaining friends and family, and the other is your personal speed boat for more thrilling adventures on the water!

A single slip dock with a rooftop deck

When cruising the lake by water you will see docks of various styles, ages, and sizes. Docks are quite expensive, some costing upwards of $50,000. They must be maintained through regular cleaning and vital repairs (done by the homeowner), such as replacing aging decking. Docks sometimes need to be moved when the lake water level rises and falls.

What most people love about private docks is their convenience – having the ability to lounge and entertain on the water close to their homes. Homeowners also enjoy the security of being able to see their boats from their homes, and the access being just a few steps away from an evening on the water. Dock permits must be renewed every 5 years and the cost is about $835. Although docks are considered personal property one should consider the value of the dock when purchasing a lake home.

Community Docks

Community docks come with slips that are either deeded or can be rented by the homeowner and paid by a quarterly, monthly, or annual fee. Costs will vary by neighborhood. The maintenance is typically done by the Homeowners Association and all costs are covered by the fees paid by the homeowner. This protects boat owners from surprise maintenance or repair costs. Most slips come covered, equipped with power, and boat lifts can be installed by the owners. They must share the dock with their neighbors and deck space is limited, therefore the dock is typically not used as a source of entertainment. The dock permit is acquired and managed by the HOA and included in the cost of the slip so that the homeowner does not need to apply for a permit. Some community dock slips can be transferred with the sale of a home in the community but they are usually limited, and it is important to know whether or not the slip is transferrable and what costs are involved. Some homes in subdivisions with community docks are not waterfront but it still gives the homeowner the opportunity to enjoy the lake life for less cost.

A vacant slip in a community dock

No matter which dock works best for you, having your boat in a slip close to home is the best way to enjoy the lake life. Pack up your cooler, grab the sunscreen and you’ll be out on the water in record time. No more hooking up the trailer, driving to the boat ramp and dealing with the hassle or of getting the boat in and out of the water. When it’s time for you to purchase your next home, call me to help you find your one with the perfect dock accessibility for a dream life on the water!

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