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I have a friend who is considering buying a waterfront property with some dockage in the Annapolis area. He was asking me if I had any idea what the maintenance costs on such a thing are, and I didn't really have a clue but figured I could ask some of you good folks online. I think the house in question has a pier with a few pilings for slips, and I think there is a small boatlift as well. I imagine there is some big outlay every 15 years or so to do big rebuilds and replacements, plus some annual work. Maybe the latter is trivial, I don't know. Thanks for any input.
 

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The latter is trivial, yes. The larger costs will be entirely dependent on how old the dock is and how well it was originally built. It's really important to be certain the dock was permitted before it was built.
 

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he needs to check on the Taxes for waterfront use, some places have a separate Tax for the use of the waterfront that is not part of the property tax. the tax goes up if you dock a boat, have swim beach or seawall
 

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The dock at my house is 19 years old. I had it built when I bought the place. The pilings have copper caps and I had asphalt felt strips applied to the tops of the joists and beams. There are several grades of CCA pressure treatment and I used the heaviest duty grade. The walking surface is treated wood.

About 10 years after I built the dock, I low-pressure power-washed it, and applied a sealer with a roller. That process was fast enough that I could have gone out for a sail that afternoon except that the dock was tacky so I could not get to the boat. I have had to replace a couple GFI receptacles after the water flooded them during a hurricane. I had to replace the hangers for the water system, which I did one low tide from the dinghy. I need to replace a few more. I expect to have to replace some planking in the next ten years. I carry commercial dock insurance since I allow friends to tie up at my dock and I could not keep my house insurance unless I had the separate dock policy. The dock insurance is pretty inexpensive.

Maryland bases your property tax on the appraised value of the property and deep water slips add to the appraised value of the property. But there is a homestead exception on property taxes in Maryland that limits the amount that a property tax can rise in any given year so my property taxes are quite affordable.

Jeff
 

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We have a dock too. Jeff's advice is right on.

Do absolutely tell your friend to FULLY investigate permitting. If it is not properly permitted, it is worth nothing. If it is, it may substantially effect the price of the property. Like Jeff said, here in my neighborhood the tax implications of owning a dock are that the dock can substantially effect the value of the real estate....thus your real estate taxes.

For maintenance, we built the decking with one of the plastic faux wood decking products. The pilings are some wood that resists the bugs, I cannot remember the name of it but it is so heavy that the pilings do not float. Local ordinances don't like creosote. I'd want to investigate how who set the pilings, hopefully they are deep. I'd want to know especially for a floating dock that the pilings have quite a bit of height for storm surge. We've done no maintenance in 20 years, but it was built to high standards. No experience with boat lifts.

If it freezes where you are you need to deal with that. The failure mode is that an ice ring forms around the pilings, and as the tide comes in and out, it gradually lifts the pilings out. To stop this, either one of those little propeller things hung under the dock, or an air compressor with a hose full of holes sunk under the dock does the trick. I prefer the air compressor as it doesn't get fouled by debris in the water. The warmer water is brought up by the little propeller or air bubbles near the pilings and the ice stays clear.

At least for us, boats take WAY more maintenance than docks.
 

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One thing to consider when replacing 20 year old pressure treated wood is the change of the chemicals over the years. 20 years ago pressure treated wood had a component of I think Cyanide or its derivative. It was outlawed and replaced by a copper-based, pressure-treating compound in 2003.

I am not positive of the chemical compounds of each but know the modern pressure treated wood has a chemical reaction to not specially galvanized metals. So an upgrade to newer wood might cause the old brackets to degrade faster. There is an option to wrap the beams with a material like Grace Vycor to protect metal brackets from early decay.
 

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A lot depends upon the wear & tear the dock gets from weather and use. We had a floating dock attached to a building at the head of a very well-protected harbor. An 18 foot center console skiff was the sole occupant. The main problem we had was from ice in the winter wrenching the ramp pivot points. Despite that, it went 40 years until I had to scarf new ends on the longitudinal beams of the ramp. The flotation sometimes needed some attention, and we painted it now and again when it started to look shabby. Otherwise, spending up front on solid construction pays off with minimal maintenance costs.
 
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