Lake Realty

Lake Norman Boat Slips: Can you cover them?

There’s no simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to this question. Whether you’re allowed to have or own a covered boat slip will depend on your specific property and boat design. To get started, there are two sets of guidelines that you need to be aware of.

The first are the CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions) issued by a homeowners association. An HOA may prohibit a covered boat slip or may have additional restrictions that must be adhered to. If you’re considering a property with an HOA, then you’ll want to check out their CC&Rs first.

The second set of guidelines are the shoreline management guidelines (SMG) 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. Let’s begin with new docks.

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 of the SMG:

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 verify if it’s permissible on your specific property.

Before moving onto existing docks, there’s one important difference between covered and uncovered docks that we need to address. It’s essential to understand that the square footage is calculated differently for a covered dock versus an uncovered one. For example, to calculate the square footage of an uncovered dock, you would take the area that you can actually walk on. If you covered it, you would have to include the entire area under the cover as well.

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

Now let’s get back to existing docks. Is the existing dock a conforming or nonconforming (aka grandfathered) structure? If the dock is nonconforming 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 it is conforming, you are allowed to cover the boat slip, as long as it abides by the applicable guidelines and doesn’t violate other guidelines.

What if you wanted to cover your boat slip and double it up 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 sun deck. However, the second story must not be roofed to create a two-story roof structure.

Here are three more guidelines that you might find beneficial to know:

  • Covered boat slips and boat shelters may have one 4-by-6-foot enclosed storage closet on one of the corners of the structure closest to the shore.
  • The sides of gazebos, boat shelters, and covered boat slips are not to be enclosed, which includes but is not limited to siding and latticework.
  • No new or expanded docks will be authorized in cove areas less than 25 feet wide.

What we’ve 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. They state this in their guidelines under the title of “Special Ruling,” reading:

“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.”

I hope that this has been helpful and insightful. Discussing the rules was not intended to make the process seem complicated, only to help you understand the guidelines better. If you’re working with a dock builder or Lake Services, they know all the guidelines inside and out.

Well, I hope this article gave you some good background info into Covered Boat Slips on Lake Norman. If you any questions, please reach out. We are here to help. Looking for a waterfront home? Check out these lake norman waterfront homes for sale.