Buying a Home With a Boat Dock in Palm Beach

Samantha Curry  |  November 3, 2022

Buying a Home With a Boat Dock in Palm Beach

Are you looking for a luxurious waterfront property in Palm Beach, Florida? If you want the ultimate example of coastal sophistication, you may want to consider buying a home with a boat dock. Palm Beach is well-known for its beautiful Atlantic beaches and stunning oceanfront homes. The community also has access to the Intercoastal Waterways, which makes it a popular destination for docks and a water-centered lifestyle. However, finding a home with a boat dock can be complex and complicated, so it’s best to work with an expert if you want to avoid expensive mistakes.
If an ocean oasis sounds appealing, read on for expert advice to make your home-buying journey seamless when searching for a private dock. Here is all you need to know about waterfront Palm Beach real estate:

Types of docks

If you are looking for a Palm Beach home for sale with a boat dock, it’s important to consider several elements and features. The type of dock, configuration, and length are all important details that impact how you can use a dock and the type of vessel you can accommodate.
First, determine which kind of dock you are looking for. There are three main types of docks: fixed, floating, and lift.
Fixed docks are attached to the shoreline and cannot be moved, as they are designed to sit above the surface of the water. Floating docks, however, are not connected to the coastline. Instead, they float on the surface, so they will rise and fall depending on the water level. Lift docks are attached to the shoreline and have various configurations that allow the boat to be lifted out of the water during harsh conditions.


Docks can be constructed of several materials, including wood, aluminum, or concrete. Wood docks are the most common type of dock in Palm Beach and are also the least expensive to maintain. Aluminum docks are more costly to maintain but last longer than wood. Concrete docks are the most expensive to maintain, but they are the most durable, especially against storms. When selecting a home with a boat dock, keep in mind that the materials used in its construction will certainly make a difference in current and future maintenance needs.

Dock length

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Boat docks vary in size and shape, directly corresponding to how they can be used and the type of vessel they can accommodate. Smaller boat docks are typically used for kayaks, canoes, and small motorized boats, while more extensive docks can accommodate sailboats, large speed boats, and yachts. The size and shape of the dock you need will depend on the type of boat you plan to keep.


If you are searching for Palm Beach houses for sale with a private dock, it’s essential to do your due diligence and make sound real estate decisions. Of course, ordering a private dock inspection is an important step in ensuring that you’re making a wise purchase.
A professional inspector will assess various aspects of the dock to determine its true condition, so you can establish whether or not it is suitable for your boat and its intended purpose. A private dock inspection is an assessment of dock components and potential areas for concern, such as the:

  • Electrical system
  • Pilings
  • Railings
  • Safety hazards
  • Hardware
  • Structure and condition
  • Boat lift mechanics and roofing
Conducting a dock inspection before you purchase a Palm Beach oceanfront home for sale is a critical step, especially if the dock is not new or has had recent renovations. This can save you time and money, as you’ll be able to address any potential issues before purchasing the home and getting stuck with an unpermitted or unsafe dock. With the details from the inspection report in hand, you can make an informed decision about how to proceed with the transaction and understand any costs associated with the dock to make sure it is functional for your needs.

Consult the professionals

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A professional dock inspector can help you understand the dock’s overall condition and determine which repairs or replacements may be needed. Working with a licensed, insured, and experienced dock inspector can significantly impact the inspection outcome. You want to work with certified specialists with years of experience thoroughly inspecting the seawall and structural components above and below the water. Before making decisions on a property, work with a verified professional for a comprehensive dock assessment and to estimate repairs.

Building a dock

If you seek a lifestyle full of water adventures, another option is to purchase a home and build a dock on your own. After all, there are many stunning homes on the Palm Beach real estate scene with water access, either on the ocean or Intracoastal Waterway. These properties offer spectacular views and the potential for luxury amenities like private docks.
If you fall in love with a home that does not have an existing dock, building one may be the best way to go. Adding a private dock to your home allows you to choose specific materials and specifications to meet your unique needs. However, it’s important to remember that not every property will have the rights to build a dock, and the number of docks is also limited. Locals can find detailed information and resources for private docks through the Palm Beach County website.

Riparian rights

Riparian rights
are the rights of an owner with a property that borders a body of water to use the water for specific purposes. These rights can include the right to build a dock, access the water, and recreational use of the water, like swimming, fishing, and boating. Not all waterfront properties in Palm Beach have riparian rights, and speaking with a legal professional can help you determine what you can and cannot do with your property and water access.

Permits and regulations

The regulations and required permits will vary from property to property. Potential permits and regulations in Palm Beach may include:

  • Draft: The minimum depth your vessel can dock in without hitting the boat’s hull on the ocean floor.
  • Boat size: A regulated factor often determined by water frontages.
  • Clearance: The space between the dock and the boat should meet specific requirements and will generally require 10 feet of clearance on each side of the vessel.


Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Of course, it’s essential to work with the right vendors for your dock and boat to ensure that all components are up to code and will function properly. Utilizing a marina can be another option if you cannot buy a home with a dock or build a dock on your home. When your boat is docked at a marina, it is typically in a gated area with security cameras and security guards. Many Palm Beach marinas, like Sailfish Marina and Resort, also have perks like fueling stations, cleaning services, and clubhouse amenities. Take a look at the marina locations and services near you.

Why you need an expert agent

Working with a local real estate agent with waterfront experience is crucial, as waterfront homes often have unique amenities like private docks that require custom information and resources. Palm Beach real estate agents with extensive buying and selling experience can provide in-depth insights and knowledge to help you avoid costly mistakes. They will guide you in making informed decisions about existing docks and the option to build one based on your community rules if that is the route you choose to take.
Samantha Curry is a multi-million dollar agent and Executive Director of Luxury Sales at Douglas Elliman Palm Beach. She understands luxury buyer needs and is dedicated to providing up-to-date resources and innovative services to help buyers secure a waterfront property. Reach out to Samantha today to get started.

*Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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