Do-It-Yourself Docks

The DIY Revolution. The two best things to happen to homeowners in the history of residential housing: HGTV and Home Depot.

Then came the rise of the “kits” — everything you needed to install anything from interior doors to exterior sheds could be purchased in one shrink-wrapped parcel that contained all necessary bolts, anchors, and brackets.

This was followed by YouTube with videos of regular people transforming their kitchens, converting garages into apartments, and even creating a relaxation oasis out of a tiny fenced yard. On your monitor, step-by-step instructions for a full-on DIY Weekend. All lofty goals, all contributed to pride of ownership and in some cases, enabled cost savings.

But should a line be drawn as to what people who are not contractors (or professionals in a particular industry) try to construct? If you could buy a kit on Amazon, would you build your own car? Your own boat? Your own dock at the water’s edge?

Yes, we have been in the marine construction industry for over thirty years. We know what it takes to install a solid, (seaworthy if you will), structure. We are also big on consumer education and want our clients to know how to inspect their docks, decking, and seawalls for changes to their integrity that could cause a breach and mark the beginning of structural damage.

When we build our docks, we are known for our beautiful designs and integrating structures to suit a home’s architecture. But we are about safety first. And we want you to be too. That is why we advocate having your dock built by a professional.

These are our top seven reasons against a DIY Deck:

  1. You are talking about a structure that is on the water upon which people will walk. This is not a fence that surrounds your vegetable garden. Safety is paramount.
  2. You likely don’t have the right tools. You can rent them, but if it is something you need to rent, you likely do not have the proficiency to use them as you don’t already own them.
  3. Installing the supporting posts (or pilings) in the water to sustain your dock or pier necessitates jetting with water, or driving with a pile driver. It’s a big job.
  4. You require an excellent understanding of the soil characteristics. Is the earth at your water’s edge solid enough to be load-bearing? Can it even support the weight of the equipment needed to drive the piles?
  5. Installing a dock requires solid calculations so it stays installed.
  6. You need to be certain you are conforming to safety codes and filing all the appropriate permits with your county or homeowners’ association.
  7. You need professional grade materials. Whether pressure-treated wood or PVC, marine-certified supplies must be used and then fastened with the exact type and quantity of fasteners for that material.

Try your hand at taping and spackling (it is actually harder to do than it looks!) or installing a floating floor in your family room; but when it comes to water structures, you want to consider imposing some DIY limitations. Those are the times when a marine construction specialist is your best don’t-do-it-yourself resource.

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