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Designing Your Perfect Custom Boathouse 1

Designing Your Perfect Custom Boathouse

If you’ve invested in a boat, you’re probably eager to get out on the water with friends and family. But you also understand the importance of properly storing your boat to help protect your assets. 

At Gilbert + Burke, we understand your desire to maintain your water assets while creating one-of-a-kind experiences for your family and friends. That’s why we work with you to build custom boathouses that will fit your unique needs.

In this article, we explore the general process of building a custom boathouse.

What is a Boathouse?

A boathouse is essentially a garage for your boat. Many boathouses sit on the water, so you can easily pilot your boat inside, moor it, and close the garage door to keep it safe and secure in any storm.

You can also build a dry boathouse on land to store your boat in winter, or to store smaller boats like canoes and kayaks. 

Boathouses are a way to maintain your boat, keeping it from getting rained on or damaged by extreme weather. They also provide a convenient, comfortable place to get on and off the boat and storage for things like life jackets and fishing tackle.

But a boathouse can be much more than a place to park your boat!

With its position near water, a boathouse is a beautiful place to entertain or relax with family. A custom boathouse allows you to craft your boathouse into a space to entertain, relax in nature, or even host overnight guests. 

Remember: Permitting is one of the most significant pieces in building a boathouse. We encourage you to choose a contractor who understands the local permitting process of the municipality where your project is located. 

Custom boathouse permitting

Three Reasons to Build a Custom Boathouse

There are numerous advantages to building a custom boathouse on your property. Let’s look at the three main benefits. 

  1. To fit your unique vision 

Why did you purchase waterfront property?

Maybe your goal was to spend more time with family, or maybe you want to entertain more. Maybe you just need a getaway.

Whether you dream of entertaining at sunset on midsummer’s eve or spending a day fishing with your children and then consuming the freshly caught, grilled fish on the dock, a custom boathouse helps cultivate a unique experience that fits you.

      2. To protect your boat

Your boat is not only an investment but an integral part of your vision for this property. You want to be out on the water, and you want to share that experience with your loved ones.

A custom boathouse helps you protect your assets. The boathouse will not only keep it out of the rain but also protect it from harmful UV rays and help deter would-be thieves. 

     3.Help increase property value

When you purchased your waterfront property, you were motivated by the memories you hoped to cultivate with family and friends. 

But your property is not just for pleasure; it’s also an investment. 

Doing deliberate things to maintain and improve the land typically increases the property value by making the property more attractive to future owners. And if you own a lake-side property, you typically can’t go wrong by building a beautiful boathouse!

Boathouses are a good investment for lakefront properties

Designing Your Custom Boathouse (5 Factors to Consider)

When designing a custom boathouse, you have a lot of options to choose from and factors to consider. Let’s go over some of the primary ones.

1 – Decide on the function of your boathouse

Besides the obvious—storing a boat—what other purposes will your boathouse serve?

Do you want to use the space for entertaining? If so, how many people do you envision gathering at your events? Do you see yourself mingling outdoors, or do you want to have an indoor space as well?

Do you see yourself hanging out with your family and reading books? Would you like space for larger indoor games such as ping-pong? Are you hoping to create a space that can double as a guest house?

By clarifying what you envision doing in your boathouse, you’ll have an easier time settling on a design. 

Remember: It may not be possible to execute all of your ideas. For example, some lakes and municipalities do not allow bathrooms or kitchens in boathouses. Discuss your ideas with a reputable boathouse contractor to make sure your vision falls within the parameters of local by-laws and codes.

2 – Style ideas for your boathouse

There are many style options to explore when designing your boathouse. Not only do you want an architectural design that fits your taste, but you want your boathouse to complement the nature around it. 

Here are some ideas:

  • Rustic. Built with rustic beams and unfinished wood if you want something that blends seamlessly into nature. 
  • Minimalist. Disrupt nature as little as possible with sleek, modern lines.
  • Cozy cottage. Evoke the feel of a cabin by adding weathered shingle siding and filling your boathouse with comfortable furniture.
  • Old European. Using stone to go with an old-European feel is simultaneously regal and rustic.
  • Large windows. Craft your design around large picture windows so you can enjoy the lake view from the comfort of the indoors.

Designing Your Perfect Custom Boathouse 2

5 Styles of Boathouses
to Consider:

  • Cozy Cottage

  • Minimalist

  • Rustic

  • Old European

  • Large Windows

Designing Your Perfect Custom Boathouse 2

3 – Multi-level decks

The dock is an integral part of your boathouse, and you should give some serious thought to how you’ll utilize it! You can entertain on it, swim from it, or lounge on the dock and enjoy the scenery.

If you’re hosting a lot or using your deck for various things, you’ll want spacious decks on multiple levels—on top of the boathouse and at the water level. 

This creates visual interest and adds areas of sun and shade so that you can always find a comfortable temperature. 

4 – Adding a bathroom and kitchenette

If your local codes allow it, adding a bathroom and a kitchen or kitchenette to your boathouse will expand the possibilities for what you can do in this space!

A bathroom makes guests more comfortable, and a kitchen provides a handy place to prepare meals, store drinks, and assemble appetizers for entertaining. 

But while bathrooms and kitchens are popular, they’re not always possible depending on where you’re planning to build. Make sure to discuss your vision with a contractor who is familiar with local boathouse building codes.

5 – Adding functional living space

Are you looking for extra space to host overnight guests?

If so, we strongly recommend creating a functional living space above the boat storage bay. 

If local codes allow you to add a bathroom and kitchen, you might as well turn the space into a small cottage where your parents can stay when they visit your waterfront property and hang out with their grandchildren. 

But even without a bathroom or kitchen, your boathouse can still function as an overflow guest space.

Make your custom boathouse a space for hosting

Find a contractor for your custom boathouse

Are you ready to build the custom boathouse of your dreams?

If so, it’s time to hire a contractor. And not just any contractor, but one who specializes in custom, one-of-a-kind boathouses.

When searching, look for a contractor who:

  • Communicates well
  • Understands your vision
  • Is eager to answer your questions
  • Understands local laws, codes, and restrictions
  • Has good reviews and references

If you own property in Ontario in areas such as Muskoka, Kawarthas, Simcoe, Parry Sound, or Southern Georgian Bay, give Gilbert+Burke a call!

We create custom boathouses that help you build your family’s legacy. We also have the experience and knowledge necessary to navigate the permitting process. 

Besides our boathouses, we also specialize in: 

Check out our service locations, and then book an appointment so we can start talking about your project!

If you’d enjoy a meaningful conversation about your vision for your boathouse, we’d love to hear from you. 


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Ken Jaquith Director Of Client Experience
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