How to Build a Boat Lift

How to Build a Boat Lift

Boat lifts safeguard your vessel, reducing unnecessary repairs and maintenance over time due to algae and corrosion. They also help prevent damage and scuffs by stabilizing it above the water. When you build a boat lift, you will enjoy the convenience of storing your vessel safely near the dock, saving you time and effort after a day on the water.

You can install a boat lift at almost any waterfront with simple operating systems. Do the right research and thorough planning beforehand and follow our step-by-step guide to help you build your new boat lift.

Understanding the Basics of Boat Lift Construction

The primary function of your boat lift is to hold and elevate your boat above water securely to protect it from damage that can occur due to prolonged submission. As such, the basics of boat lift construction include the following:

  • Pilings: Piling or posts are vertical support elements that serve as the boat lifts’ foundation. These anchor to the lake or seabed.
  • Structural framework: The framework often uses materials like aluminum or galvanized steel, which are corrosion-resistant.
  • Lift mechanism: The lift mechanism attaches to the structural framework. It must support your boat’s size and weight to keep it stable as it lifts and lowers the vessel. These can include cable lifts, cradle lifts or hydraulic lifts.
  • Guides and bunks: These devices guide the boat onto the lift while supporting its hull and keeping it in place during lifting or lowering.
  • Decking: Decking on top of the structural framework stabilizes the platform you use to access your boat. You need to use materials that can withstand water exposure, like plastic or marine-grade wood.
  • Compliance: Check local regulations and get the necessary permits for water construction before you start building.

Pre-Construction Planning

Before you begin construction, you must consider a few factors to ensure your project is successful and compliant, setting the foundation for your boat lift.

Evaluating Water Conditions

Factors like the water depth, tidal fluctuations and the type of lake bottom or seabed where you plan on building the boat lift will influence your design. They will dictate where you put the pilings to support the structure. Ideally, you want a location where the water levels are consistently low or high, allowing you to install a boat lift that accommodates these conditions.

Designing Your Boat Lift

Start your design by selecting the right location. Consider the shoreline conditions and water access while ensuring your location adheres to local regulations. Next, you must determine what kind of structure will work best — a stationary or a floating boat lift. 

Stationary boat lifts work well in consistent water levels like lakes or marinas and can easily accommodate larger boats as they have a greater weight capacity. The installation can be more complex due to pilings or posts you need to drive into the seabed, but they may need less frequent maintenance once installed.

Floating boat lifts have a lower environmental impact, with more DIY installation and relocation potential. Due to their modular nature, they may need more maintenance, but you will have easy access to complete these. These lifts can accommodate fluctuating water levels and tidal movements as they self-adjust to varying water depths.

As you design your structure, consider your boat’s weight and dimensions. It is imperative that your boat lift can accommodate it in various weather conditions.

Securing Permits and Legal Requirements

You may need to get permits, including shoreline development, waterfront structure and dredging permits for environmental compliance. These requirements vary by state and location.

Stationary boat lifts may have to go through more stringent permitting as they have a bigger impact on the lake or seabed. Do thorough research on your local regulations to get the permits you need to install your boat lift. Your area may need an environmental impact assessment to ensure your lift meets environmental guidelines.

Building a Boat Lift

Putting that boat lift together can be as complex or as simple as you let it. Stationary boat lifts are often more complex, while a floating boat lift is relatively easy to build.

Stationary Boat Lifts

Stationary boat lifts are freestanding, hydraulic or cantilever and can connect to an existing dock. You start by establishing a solid foundation and installing pilings into the seabed. Next, you assemble the lift mechanism with pulleys and cables. You must ensure proper alignment and tension in the cables.

Floating Boat Lifts

Floating Boat Lifts

Floating boat lifts drift on water, typically next to a fixed dock or connecting to your floating docks. They work well in deep water where traditional installation is challenging. Building the floating boat lift involves assembling sections that create a stable platform. Next, you attach the lifting system with winches or hoists that help the lifting system. Add buoyant materials and adjustable floats or legs to ensure stability in varying water conditions.

Finishing Touches and Quality Assurance

In the final stages, apply protective coatings that guard your boat lift against wear and tear, especially in saltwater. Inspect the lift’s operation, checking that the safety features work and the movements are smooth. Conduct regular maintenance to ensure everything works as it should, which is key to your boat lift’s long-term performance.

Accessories for Your Boat Lift

Popular accessories include canopies that cover the structure to protect your vessel from birds, the sun and precipitation. Guides are another option to simplify launching or parking your boat. You may also want to install lights to increase visibility, especially if you enjoy going out on the water at night. If you use a battery-powered boat lift, consider installing solar panels as an alternative to running electricity to the dock.

Enhance Your Waterfront With EZ Dock

Building a boat lift involves careful planning, adherence to local building regulations and assessing your boat lift’s environmental impact. Whether you are installing a stationary or floating lift, pay attention to detail in your design and maintenance plan to ensure that your system is durable and safe to operate.

EZ Dock boat lifts and docks offer low-maintenance and eco-friendly solutions. The Aegis boat lift is a floating system with a galvanized steel frame and linear low-density polyethylene tanks, making it resistant to extreme weather. It can hoist vessels up to 7,000 pounds and 28 feet long with various customization options. Contact our team for expert guidance and custom solutions for a boat lift that can integrate with a floating or traditional dock system.

Enhance Your Waterfront