As a Smith Mountain Lake REALTOR, I’m frequently asked questions regarding docks and dock building at SML. So for this installment of AMA (Ask Me Anything) Real Estate, I reached out to SML area dock expert Jason Turner to answer some of the most common questions my team and I get. Jason is a second-generation dock builder and president of Turner’s Dock Building, which has been in business here since 1976.

Photos courtesy of Turner’s Dock Building.

Q: How much does it cost to build a dock at Smith Mountain Lake?

A: Budgeting for a dock is a lot like budgeting for a house. Some people choose to start with a budget-friendly, no-frills dock that can be expanded down the road. Some of the more high-end projects can run upward of $200,000. There are a lot of different variables. For example, dock size, location, wood vs. steel pylons and composite vs. wood decking can all play a major role in the cost of a dock at SML. I’m always happy to meet homeowners at their lot or existing dock to get a better idea of what they have in mind and provide a better estimate of cost.

Q: How big can I build my Smith Mountain Lake dock?

A: Under the AEP Shoreline Management Plan, the maximum size a dock can be is 3,000 square feet – if you have enough water frontage. For an average-sized lot here 1,500 square feet is more in line with what is being built to maximize usable space. Twenty years ago, the primary function of dock was to have something for the kids to swim off of and to house your boat. Now, the dock is truly an extension of your home so, for the most part, people want the most space possible and all the bells and whistles they can afford.

Q: How long does it usually take when building a dock at Smith Mountain Lake?

A: It usually takes about six weeks once you get permits in hand. The average permitting time is 5-6 weeks, so all together about three months. Of course, that’s if you don’t run into any issues and the weather cooperates.

Q: Do dock builders at Smith Mountain Lake recommend a certain season for building?

A: Fall is a good time to get started. Most dock builders are booked up the first part of the year. That means you can build in the latter part of the year and be ready to enjoy the whole next season. Luckily, the weather at Smith Mountain Lake allows us to build all year long.

Q: If I’m building a house at Smith Mountain Lake, should I put the dock in before, during or after the home-building process?

A: Most of our customers who have chosen to build the dock prior to building the house have been happy they did it that way. If you’re from out of town, you can still come in and spend the day on the dock, go boating and check on the home construction process. It gives you an extra excuse to come and enjoy the lake more often.

Have any additional questions about docks or anything else at Smith Mountain Lake? Contact me and I’ll be glad to help!