I’m excited to talk about this topic.  We’re not going to get too technical but we are going to get in the weeds a  bit because there is no simple yes or no answer to this question.–

“Whether you are allowed to have a covered boat slip or add on a covered boat slip will depend on your specific property and dock design.”

To get started, there are two sets of guidelines that you need to be aware of.

The first is the Covenants Conditions and Restrictions (or CC&Rs) issued by a Homeowners Association.  A HOA may prohibit a covered boat-slip or have additional restrictions that must be adhered too.  So, if you considering a property with an HOA, then you will want to check their CC&Rs first.

The second set of guidelines are the Shoreline Management Guidelines issued by Duke Energy’s Lake Services.

As we get into these guidelines, it’s  helpful if we separate new docks from existing docks because the guidelines for an existing dock are a little more nuanced.

So let’s start out with a new dock.  For a new dock, your design can include a covered boat slip assuming all the requirements are met for a conforming dock including the following guideline that can be found in Section 4.

Canopy roofs are permitted provided the sides are not enclosed. The canopy must not block cross vision any more than a standard pitched roof.

When you are applying for a new dock, Lake Services will review your design and will verify if it is permissible on your specific property.

Now, before we dig into existing docks, there’s one important difference between covered and uncovered docks that we need to talk about.  It’s essential to understand that the square footage is calculated differently for a covered dock versus an uncovered dock.

Let’s look at an example.  Here we have a simple uncovered boat slip.  To calculate the square footage of this dock,  you would take the area that you can actually walk on. Now,  if we covered this boat slip  then we have to include the entire area under the cover as well.  For illustration purposes, Let’s say this part of the dock is 10 feet in length and 6feet in width.  So there is A sixty square foot area in the water.  For an uncovered dock you don’t count this area but once you cover it, then you have to include this additional 60 square feet in your totals.

This difference in how to calculate the square footage can potentially be a major factor because many docks have already been built to the maximum square footage allowed.

Now that we’ve clarified square footage calculations,  let’s talk about existing docks.  We need to know if the existing dock is a ‘Conforming’ or a ‘Non-Conforming Structure’, which is what most people refer to as a grandfathered.

If the dock is non-conforming i.e. grandfathered and it already exceeds the current maximum allowable square footage, then according to the guidelines, no additions may be made including, but not limited to, adding roofs or decks above the existing portion of the dock.

   If the dock is conforming, then you can cover the boat slip  as long as the cover abides by the applicable guidelines and the addition doesn’t violate other guidelines like the maximum square footage as we’ve already discussed.

Now what if you wanted your covered boat slip to double as a sun deck?   According to the guidelines,

decks, gazebos, covered boat slips, and boat shelters may be roofed and designed to allow second story use (like a sundeck); however, the second story must not be roofed creating a two-story roofed structure.

I’m going to give you three more guidelines that are relevant to our topic that you may find beneficial:

One, Covered boat slips and boat shelters may have one 4 foot by 6 foot (or smaller) enclosed storage closet on one of the corners of the structure closest to shore. (This construction must be noted in the application.)

Two, the sides of gazebos, boat shelters, and covered boat slips are not to be enclosed. This includes, but is not limited, to siding and latticework. The bottom portion of gazebos may be enclosed, provided the gazebo is not the furthermost portion of the pier structure. Handrails may be put on for safety, but must not be enclosed.

Three, No new or expanded docks will be authorized in cove areas less than 25 feet wide

What we have discussed today is intended to give you a general understanding of the guidelines that surround covered boat slips.  Ultimately Lake Services will have the final say in what is and is not allowed and actually state this in their guidelines under the title of ‘Special Rulings’. It reads

Since every possible scenario cannot be anticipated, Duke Energy Lake Services reserves the right to make special rulings in cases not specifically covered by these guidelines or to prevent violating the intent of the permitting programs.

If you want to download the Shoreline Management Guidelines, then just go to guidelines.lakerealty.com.

Well, I hope this video has been insightful.  I know we got into a lot of ‘rules’ here and that was not intended to make the process seem complicated.  This video was to help you personally understand the guidelines a little better.  If you are working with a dock builder or Lake Services, they know all the guidelines inside and out and will lead you through the process.