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From mapping your design to starting construction, there’s a lot that goes into dock building. If you’re planning on constructing your latest project in the Florida Keys, you’re in luck. The area is gorgeous and bustling, with plenty to see and do. However, there are some things you need to be aware of if you plan on building your own dock there. Here’s everything you need to know about building your dock in the Florida Keys.

What You Need Before You Build

Before you get started on your dock, there are a few things you’ll need. Firstly, you’ll want to conduct a site visit. This will familiarize you with the location and allow you to create a reliable plan to work with.

From there you will need to have a plan drawn up. A structural engineer can design a set of drawings that will be used to construct your docks, essentially acting as rough blueprints. This will also show you the size of the project, the location, the style, and any other details involved. Once these drawings are complete, they can be sent out to contractors. 

After the plans have been drawn up, you will want to obtain all the required permits in order to be legally allowed to build in your specified location. These permits will consist of the Army Corps of Engineering Permit, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Permit, the FDEP Permit, and a Municipal Permit. These are incredibly important in order to begin construction on your project, dock or otherwise legally, and cannot be applied for without the plan first. All that’s left is to allow the contractors to obtain the permits, then the real fun can begin.

Choosing the Right Materials For Dock Building

When it comes to the actual dock building, there are a few different styles to choose from. Arguably the most popular option is timber docks, which are made out of marine-grade pressure-treated wood pilings. These docks have excellent endurance when submerged in saltwater, so implementing timber decking and timber framing might also be worth considering. It can usually last around twenty-five years before it starts needing replacement or rotting begins to become a major issue.

On the other hand, there are concrete docks. Concrete is the stronger choice and lasts twice as long as wood with an average lifespan of fifty years, albeit with a higher price tag. Your dock can be built fully out of concrete or be combined with wood to create a blend of materials, such as timber dock and concrete piles. At the end of the day, a lot of it comes down to aesthetics, and unless you absolutely need one over the other, either will do.

Things to Remember While Dock Building

So you’ve picked out your materials? Great! Now you just need to think about which additional features you would like to add. Do you want your pilings above water to tie things to, or below it and out of the way? Do they need caps? Should you add cleats to tie down boats instead? What about bumpers to absorb the shock of boats and facilitate rubbing during the tidal exchange to stop boat damage? Many of these accessories can be added easily after the fact during construction, but major additions like a boat lift will require a discussion with the engineer during the design phase, as heavy-duty boat lifts can require some additional specifications. Don’t forget about the parking area itself and how much of it you’ll actually need. Will, you be owning the home or renting it? You’ll want to leave enough room for boats accordingly.

If you’re on a canal you can have a bigger dock than you would be able to out in open water. You must also be sure that the area of your waterway has at least four feet of water during low tide, as is legally required. Without this much water it would be an observation dock, which can be used for leisurely activities like having lunch or fishing, but not for parking boats.

Get Building!

The process of dock building might seem complicated at first, but by hiring an experienced and reliable Florida Keys company to take some of the weight off your shoulders, everything suddenly becomes a whole lot easier. At Suncoast Permits, we’re happy to lift that weight. We do everything from securing your permits and drawing up project designs to marine engineering, all of which are done in an efficient and timely manner to get your project up and running as quickly as possible.