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Examples of buildable areas as defined by a surveying professional

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Building a dock on Lake Wylie and other reservoirs owned or managed by Duke Energy.

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​​Lake Wylie Dock Builder - Lake Wylie Docks


Choosing a marine contractor - choose carefully.

Your choice of contractor may be more important that you thought.  York County makes up most of the southern end of Lake Wylie and does not require you or your marine contractor to apply for a dock permit.  A Duke Energy Construction Permit is all that is required in most areas of York County.  That means no building inspector will ever inspect your dock and it will never have to pass an inspection to ensure it is safe for you and your family.  Scary isn't it?  Duke Energy governs all lake construction activity and approves or denies an application based on its compliance with their SMG (Shoreline Management Guidelines). Their guidelines, approval process and final inspection have nothing to do with structural integrity of what is being built.  Even more scary huh?  County's that do require permits and inspections use 'deck building guidelines' as a baseline for proper dock construction practices.  A dock will not stay together like is should if it is engineered and built like a deck as mentioned above.  So who’s looking out for your best interest?  You are relying on the credibility of the marine contractor of your choosing - so choose carefully.  We know first-hand what it takes to build a dock that will pass a county inspection and sustain all of what Mother Nature brings on the water as well as the abuse from boat traffic, wind, waves and other weather related stresses.  We have rebuilt 5-6 year old docks that should have lasted several decades had they been built properly to begin with.  


Are you licensed?  We all see the marketing statements 'licensed, bonded and insured' and everyone working for you should be, but who's checking and is it really that important?  In order to get a marine contractor license I had to first work several thousand hours with a licensed company who specialized in marine construction.  I had to submit years of construction timelines along with the names, addresses, phone numbers and job information of the clients whose project I was personally responsible for managing.  After satisfying this prerequisite I was to permitted to schedule the exams required to be passed in order obtain a marine contractors license.  In short, yes I am licensed.  WaterJack Marine Construction is also listed as an approved contractor on Duke Energy's contractor list.  This list represents active and approved marine contractors who not only perform construction activities but have not disobeyed rules like working without a permit.  Those contractors are immediately removed from this list.  You would think complying with permit regulations and actually getting a permit were obvious but I have witnessed the removal of several contractors from this list in my years working on the area lakes.


​A dock is just a deck on the water right?  Not true.  We often hear "a dock is just like a deck, except on the water".  Docks are subject to more abuse and must be engineered according to the conditions in and around the water.  We have witnessed not-so-crafty craftsmanship at the hands of land carpentry contractors who can probably build a nice "deck" but their dock construction has left much to be desired.  We see this often when they or their client thought deck building standards could be applied to building on the water.   


Where can I build my dock and how big can it be?
The first step in building a dock is to define your 'buildable area' or 'project boundary' according to the SMG.  The SMG are a set of detailed procedures and criteria that regulate activities within reservoirs owned or managed by Duke Energy.  Simply put, the buildable area defines the area in which you can build your new dock.  If you're lucky enough to have 100 linear feet of shoreline you can build a dock as large as 1000 square feet.  (See photo examples below).  Generally speaking, a new dock will pass a Duke Energy close-out inspection as long as (a) the build matches what you applied for, (b) it does not project into your neighbor’s projected property lines or county setbacks, (c) , is not over 1000 square feet or more than 120' out from full the pond contour or (d) 1/3rd the distance across a cove for those of you who may be in a cove that is less than 360' wide from one side to the other.   There are so many variables involved when figuring what you can build.  Just when I thought I had witnessed every possible scenario, something new comes along.  Several hours are spent on permitting each week that result in phone calls and emails to/from Duke Energy’s Lake Management division in Charlotte.  In the end our goal is to maximize the permitted building area, according to how you want to use it and help you work through all your options prior to starting your project.  The best way to establish the preliminary boundaries is to have a property survey handy, especially one that is to scale – a copy is ok but it is preferable that you have one that has not been shrunken or blown up.  A survey must include the date and be signed by the surveyor.