How To Build Your Own Boathouse: A Complete Guide - Hiseadock

How To Build Your Own Boathouse: A Complete Guide



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If you have a waterfront property, you might have thought about several options to make it more productive. One best choice is building a house that allows you to store vessels, use it for recreational purposes. Plus, it is a great place for leisure and can be used anytime in future years. 

There are some people who have plans of building a boathouse but are not sure about how to design it. Because of that, we have carefully curated this guide, which is perfect for your requirements. This guide reveals answers to several primary questions: How to build a boathouse? How much does it cost? What materials are necessary for building a boathouse? Where should you buy the best products?. 

What Is A Boathouse?

Boathouse floating bridge
Source: Hisea Dock

Generally, a boathouse is a unique layout constructed on top of open water, close to the coastline. It is specially designed to store boats, tinier craft for recreational or leisure use, either inside the structure or underneath it. 

Several boathouses can store rowing boats, punts, small motorboats, and other kinds of vessels. You can find long-term and short-term boat houses built on top of various water bodies, including ocean coastline, seashores, river beds, and more. They will have enough space to fit vessels that come from the water. 

In addition to that, a boathouse includes boat docks, ports, and liftoffs to raise and store boats when they are not in use. Almost all boathouses contain roof cover, but walls are not mandatory. However, there are a few boat houses that are fully secured, making them look like housing property. Besides that, you can also see boathouses with a modest gazebo design which are primarily budget-friendly. 

There are many boat houses that are actually the central hub of a vessel club or rowing club, which is why some of them might contain a cafe, lounge, and additional entertainment facilities for the club members. Sometimes, owners make renovations to the boathouses to build inhabiting areas for people. However, a few owners transform the entire building to use as an interim or permanent residential property. 

Keep in mind that boathouses are not only limited to associate clubs. It is because many people who own waterfront property tend to have customized boathouses for their families. In the upcoming sections, we will talk about how to build a boathouse foundation, how much it requires, and other related information. 

Why Do You Need A Boathouse?

Kayak dock
Source: Hisea Dock

There are many reasons why you need a boathouse, and below we have listed the primary reasons: 

Storage And Protection of Boats

The primary and most common reason for building a boathouse is to store vessels. This waterfront structure works as a long-term, customized, and durable storage solution for boats, which will help you avoid the expensive slip fees. The storage space in the boathouse can safeguard the vessels from various elements.

Direct sun exposure can subside the cruiser’s paint, drawings, and sometimes melt items present in the boat. The vessels in the boathouse are free from constant sunlight and are located in cooler temperatures. In addition to that, they are safe from various natural events, such as snow, rains, hurricanes, high-speed winds, and more. 

The boathouse saves the vessels from pests and other marine animals. This structure encloses the boat and halts the effects of floating garbage. Lastly, there were many reported cases of boat thefts, which is why storing the vessels in the boathouse is the best. 

Easy And Quick Access To Water Recreation

Having a boathouse gives you a chance to get quick access to the water and other water-related recreational activities. You can turn the boathouse into an absolute leisure getaway, venue for parties, or make it a fishing area. In addition to that, there will be enough space in the boathouse to store jet skis, kayaks, canoes, small fishing boats, water bikes, river rafts, and more. 

Can Be Used As A Housing Property

As we said before, it is possible to turn the boathouse into a residential property with a few modifications. You can renovate it to a partial or permanent residence. For that, consult a skilled architect and an experienced engineer to make sure that the structure has all the requirements to become a primary housing location. Moreover, it is also good to rent out the boathouse for tourists, which gives you extra money.

Storing Marine Supplies And Equipment

You can store all the essential equipment related to boating and other marine supplies in the boathouse. Here is the list of the things you can easily keep in the waterfront structure: 

  • Boathouse Cleaning supplies
  • Tools and appliances
  • Fuel and oil for boats 
  • Boat replacement parts 
  • Personal flotation devices 
  • Fishing equipment 
  • Mooring line
  • Detachable furnishings 
  • Anchor and durable ropes 
  • Tie-downs and covers 
  • Rows and coolers 
  • Portable grills

What To Consider Before Building A Boathouse

Floating platform
Source: Hisea Dock 

Constructing a boathouse is a critical interest that needs a significant amount of time, effort, and materials as well. Here are some primary things you have to consider while planning the design. 

If you are trying to make the boathouse a housing property, intend to design the space in a way it can get maximum sunlight and heat. It is best to position the windows and other rooms in the southern direction to obtain winter heat. 

Give more preference to the design if you want to use the boathouse for vacation, recreation, or entertainment purposes. Integrate a convenient indoor and outdoor living space that allows you to enjoy the view of the waterfront. 

Next, you have to consider how to connect the waterfront property to the land. For instance, you can attach a specific part of the boathouse directly to the land like sidewalks, paths, or stairs. Another way to connect the boathouse to the land is to utilize floating docks and gangways. 

Make sure the boathouse is available for all, and it includes features such as guardrails, launching systems, ramps, and many others. Keep in mind to incorporate essential amenities to attract guests or to enjoy your vacation. Besides that, it is better to consider the lighting and furniture for indoor and outdoor spaces. 

Materials You Need To Build A Boathouse

Double float
Source: Hisea Dock

There are several types of materials that are necessary for building a boathouse. If you are familiar with this project, you can list down all the essential things. If not, the engineer, designer, and construction firm will discuss together and create a list of significant materials and equipment based on the requirements of your project. Scroll down to check out the materials you have to acquire while planning to build a durable boathouse.

Construction Materials

As of now, several boat houses are built from composite wood or chemically-treated timber. However, it is best to prevent choosing materials that contain dangerous chemicals that may spread into the water and harm the ecosystem. If you have plans of constructing the boathouse in a saltwater location, keep in mind to acquire substances that show resistance to salt corrosion. 


If the boathouse construction will take place even in the deep water, it is better to buy wooden or metal posts. If not, the structure will become too loose, which can be dangerous. Besides that, you can size the pilings depending on the depth of water and flooring situations. For instance, short pilings are decent enough for shallow water with strong flooring. However, you will have to choose long pilings for boat houses created in deep water and stony, sandy grounds.

Heavy High-end Equipment

Depending on the complexity, there are some construction projects that may need high-end and heavy equipment, such as pile drivers, which help to launch metal or wooden posts and work underneath the surface of the water.

Floating Platforms

Workers must have to borrow an appliance barge or floating platform to build the boathouse on the water. Plus, this equipment can help in carrying heavy appliances and tools. 


Make sure to select the fasteners and hardware solutions that are purely made from non-corrosive galvanized metal, reliable rubber, or other durable substances. 

Boat Ports

You also need to buy boat ports in order to store the vessels when they are not in use. Besides that, they work as a drive-on, drive-off platform and support simple docking. It is necessary to choose the right type of boat ports that can conveniently accommodate your boats.

Boat Lifts

The boat lift, also known as lift lock or ship lift, is a device that transfers vessels between water at two different heights. Boat lifts help in lifting the vessel from the water, keep it dry, minimize the chance of algae development, and protect it from meddlesome marine life.

Docks And Gangways

Buy decent floating docks made of high-quality substances around the boathouse to make a complete docking system. Also, it can fit various boats of any size. Make sure to acquire gangways to connect the docks to the land.

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Boathouse

Source: Hisea Dock

Are you thinking about how much it cost to build a boathouse? In general, the total cost for constructing a boathouse varies based on the project as it depends on several factors. However, the price can range anywhere from $10,000 to $300,000. If you are remodeling an old boathouse, then you are likely to spend less. 

Considering our experience, we can say that it is better to get quotes from various companies and buy materials from the client who provides quality substances at a reasonable cost. If you want, you can sign a deal with the engineer or construction company to supply the required materials from wholesale platforms. 

Here is a brief list of the factors which affect the price of a boathouse construction project: 

  • Location of the boathouse
  • Total construction area 
  • License expenses and vital modifications for compliance 
  • Construction time frame 
  • Engineers, architects, and workers
  • Site planning team 
  • Materials and tools
  • Construction and design 
  • Water tests
  • Required substances 
  • Furnishings, household items, and utilities 
  • Homeowners Association (HOA) expenses
  • Waterfront property tax
  • Vessel ports and liftoffs
  • Maintenance fees and timely repair costs 

How To Build A Boathouse

Boats tied with ropes
Source: Hisea Dock

As per our experience, we can say that it is best to hire a skilled engineer, designer, and boathouse construction firm for building the boathouse. Avoid choosing amateurs as coastline projects are associated with various environmental laws and construction regulations. Here are the detailed steps in order to create your boathouse.

Selecting Ideal Area And Design

Several regions impose rigid restrictions on coastline constructions as they have the potential to deteriorate the shore. If the shoreline projects are gone wrong, they can be destructive to marine ecosystems. So, it is best to perform legal water examinations and talk with a skilled site planner to evaluate the long-term consequences of building the boathouse on the waterfront. 

You also have to check for any changes in water levels and whether the water is safe and free from lethal substances or not. Avoid unearthing or transforming the beachfront land without getting the approval of regional environmental and construction officers. If your shore property shares extreme borders with municipal areas, or other people, be cautious that you are not hindering their usage or outdoor scenery. 

Before selecting the ideal area, check the water depth and make sure that it has sufficient depth to ride the boat in and out of the property. Keep in mind that the boathouse and supporting docks must not impede the voluntary water flow underneath the ground and near the posts. 

Obtaining Approvals And Permits From Officials

You can also consult the local construction officials to know whether the boathouse must be built perpendicular or parallel to the coast. After determining the correct location, you have to get the official’s permission. Numerous authorizations will need legal site plans and might include compliance examinations. 

The ideal location has to satisfy requirements for construction approvals, HOAs, and environmental agency permissions. It is best to keep aside some funds in order to pay extra fees while getting permits. 

Collecting Required Materials

Next, you have to obtain all the necessary materials expected for the formal site and construction plans. You can make a deal with the contractor for acquiring the materials at a reasonable cost. Buy premium quality and durable substances which will make sure to last for longer periods with the least repairs. Remember to avoid poor-quality products at any cost. 

If you want less maintenance material, then composite wood is perfect for your requirements. The non-toxic treated lumber is known as the best budget-friendly choice. However, polyethylene material needs less cleaning and is relatively strong, making it an excellent pick for the floating docks. 

The Hisea Dock products are made of high-quality and reliable materials, which makes them stable and easy to float on the water. They are available in different sizes, have decent quality accessories and essential boathouse tools at an affordable price. 

Building The Boathouse Foundation

The foundation of the boathouse should be sturdy enough to resist tougher use, which is why it can be a durable dock, a strong wooden crib, posts, or a mixture of these three. The project engineer will consider the location, construction’s estimated weight, consequences, and water floor material, such as loose sand or hard clay.

The floating boathouses need buoyancy design characteristics and have minimal obstruction to the surrounding atmosphere. There are specific crib layouts with tiny, open areas that allow aquatic creatures to create shelter. In order to reduce effects, it is best to design crib foundation as a “fake bottom.” 

Creating The Boathouse

After creating the foundation of the boathouse, the workers will start assembling the remaining house as per the selected format. If you choose the plan with a fully encircled area along with housing quarters, then the construction period will take a little longer and you will have to spend more money as well. However, for the pavilion-style boathouse with no sidewalls, the project can be over in a few days, and it is cost-efficient as well. 

Attaching The Roof To The Boathouse

You have to conclude the best type of roof based on the materials you have selected before. If your boathouse features an open design and is located in low-wind locations, gabled roofs with shafts that create an elevation in the middle are the best choices. However, if the boathouse’s location is in windy regions, it is ideal to choose hip roofs, which cover four sides and have a peak. 

Make sure to avoid flat roofs as they generally can not hold weight and moisture like the gable and hip roofs do. For creating the boathouse roof, corrugated metal is a typical and famous option. However, you can also select other substances based on your total budget and environmental requirements. 

Add Furnishings In The Boathouse

Now the boathouse construction is over, and you can add furniture inside the structure as you wish. 

  • Accommodations

If you plan to use the boathouse for vacation or residential purposes, it is best to customize the inside space to build a living room, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. Besides that, allocate separate space for plumbing, water heating, and other essentials. You can also install cupboards, shelves, and other built-in items if the boathouse has enough empty space.

  • Furnishings

It is best to acquire the best and suitable furniture for both indoors and outdoors. For example, you can buy lounging stools, benches, tables, or gazebo furniture for outdoor areas. As for indoor furniture, it is based on the available space. However, you can still add basic furnishings such as bed, sofa, table & chair set, shelves, and more. 

  • Essentials And Utilities

You have to install utilities to the boathouse, such as electricity, water, power cable, solar power, and others. It is better to consult professionals for HVAC installation if you would like to have climate-controlled housing. Other utilities are wifi lines, phone lines, satellite TV and security cameras, and more. 

  • Decorating

If you want to give a home feeling to the boathouse, it is better to paint the walls both inside and outside. Besides that, you can put personalized appliances, doors, windows, closets, and other things.

  • Required Things

If the boathouse has an enclosed design, it will require proper lighting, flooring, and insulation as well. Due to that, it is better to set windows in order to allow natural sunlight inside the structure and regulate the surrounding temperature. 

Boathouse Maintenance Tips

Boathouse outdoor space
Source: Hisea Dock

Maintenance of the boathouse is vital to keep it safe and secure for longer periods. If you do not follow proper maintenance tips then the structure is likely to get old and dirty. Here are the best and effective boathouse maintenance tips: 

  • Inspect the structure more often to make sure that all fasteners, connectors, and materials are secured and not broken. 
  • Check for damage after cold weather, hurricanes, and downpours hit the boathouse. 
  • Do not overlook even small defects on the posts or other structural elements because they can lead to more dangerous outcomes. 
  • Clean the boathouse from time to time and pressure wash it to make it look like a newly built structure. 
  • Take necessary measures to deter bug infestations as boathouses are highly vulnerable to insects and pests which damage clothes, wiring, and walls. 
  • Plan preventative pest examinations and clean the building to take away dirt, dust, clutter, debris, and food crumbs. 
  • Install dustbins everywhere, close the trash can tightly after pouring waste, and throw the garbage out quickly. 
  • Put emergency items inside the boathouse such as a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, water, and other things in stock. 
  • Make sure to lock the door, windows, closest and other things. 


By now, you may have an idea of how to build a boathouse on the coastline. Keep in mind to choose the ideal location, get the necessary permits, choose high-quality substances, construct the boathouse, and clean it on a regular basis. Though the entire procedure seems quite complex, the final outcome is worth the effort and money.
Make sure to check out Hisea Dock if you would like to know more about waterfront solutions and shop for cost-effective and high-quality products required to create a boathouse. In addition to that, you can find extra tips on how to maintain floating boathouses and other related information. For more information, book an appointment to get in touch with us. 

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