How To Plan and Design a Boat Dock

Ship and dock

The purpose of a boat dock is to serve as a parking area for a boat. Do you have a boat? Well, you can create your own boat dock easily if you have knowledge in carpentry. You could also consult with someone from a dock design and planning service that will help you go through the planning process with a team of workers for your boat dock to be made.

Hey, even without a boat, some people use their boat launch as a great space to hold barbecues or parties when it's not in use for securing a boat. So here are some of the steps to take in planning, designing, and creating your boat dock with a boat dock service:

Vision – Determine what you want your boat dock or boat slip to look like. In doing this, you should also consider your uses and needs for the boat dock. This may be as a marine dock, a lake dock, or a rent dock. Explain your vision to the construction team. Depending on the scope of your plan, the “team” may consist of you alone, you and an experienced carpenter, or a design firm. They will usually ask you questions regarding your boat dock so as to come up with the perfect design to fit your needs. For instance, Great Northern Docks has plans for several dock styles on its website ( 

In general, there are two types of boat docks, floating and free standing.

  • Free-standing docks are supported above the water and are often made of wood.
  • Floating docks float on the surface and are made of aluminum or plastic.
  • Some docks are made of a combination of materials.
  • A floating dock is more adaptable to changing water conditions while a stationary dock is more stable when the water is shallow.

The team will work with you to create plans for your boat dock and also discuss the materials that are going to be used, as well as the estimate for the cost.

Evaluation – The design team is going to have to inspect the site where your boat dock will be built. This is called the waterfront survey or evaluation. They will evaluate the different conditions so that they can improve the design and durability of your boat dock based on the conditions where it is going to be built. During the waterfront survey, they will also conduct a detailed report on the waterfront area. Things to be taken into consideration include tidal patterns, water depth, and seasonal weather variations.

Waterfront Mapping – Once the evaluation of the site has been done, a design team will use computer software to recreate the site of your boat dock. This allows the people who will work on the dock to create the best design plan for your boat dock. This may not be necessary for a small dock.

Dock Design and Plan – All the prior inspections and surveys will be used to create the perfect dock design plan. Your vision will be incorporated into the best design for the site. The design team will ask for your input regarding the materials that will be used for your boat dock.

Dock Permit and Construction – This is one of the advantages of getting the help of a boat dock service team. They will be the ones who will get all the necessary permits for you to build your boat dock on a specific site. This is a crucial step because your design must comply with local regulations or your project with be stalled or have to be redone. Once all the needed permits have been granted, the construction phase of the boat dock will begin.

Cost – This is a huge variable, depending on the size of your dock, the materials, and number of people involved. A pre-made kit or a dock made from materials you source yourself will be much cheaper than if you use a design team, but if your budget permits, your dream may be better realized by a design-and-build firm.

Do It Yourself – If your dock plan is a one-person effort, there are a number of web sites giving ideas and guidance. In addition to Great Northern, Tiger Docks ( offers dock and boat slip kits for do-it-yourselfers.

These are the steps you will go through in order to create a good plan and design for your boat dock. There are plenty of boat dock services and firms that can provide dock parts that can be found online. Choose a boat dock service that you feel secure with.


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