lake view from dock house

Modern Lake Living on Lake Anna

Lake Residents are Upgrading Their Docks to Lavish Living Quarters

By Jeff Owen, owner of JO Contractors

When you’re living on the lake, the boundaries of your living space are no longer confined to your living room. From your dock to your boathouse, there are several ways to update and upgrade your serene oasis with upscale amenities. 

Over the years, docks and boat shelters have evolved from very simple and basic to much more modern and luxurious. The early versions of boat docks consisted of two-by-six treated wooden decking and sometimes a slip or two, with approximately half of those equipped with a covered slip. Back then, deluxe features may have included screened-in areas, a storage closet and a sun deck area—some were even built over the roof! However, very few of those were wired with electricity. While boating around the lake, one can observe a wide variety of contrasting styles, sizes, shapes and color schemes. You will see there are a few of those older boat docks remaining around the lake. While they are sometimes in close resemblance to today’s versions, the modern boat dock is much more than just a place to store your boat. 

Today, lake owners request many more amenities when they start thinking about upgrading their boat docks and boathouses, some of which Dominion Power will not allow. Simply, Dominion Power doesn’t want folks living over the water in these structures. Some of their no-no’s include: heating, air conditioning, plumbing, bathrooms and full kitchens, just to mention a few. Dominion Power also regulates the size and position of the structures based on their guidelines.

Some of the more unusual requests I encounter include: fire pits, fireplaces, dishwashers, heat pumps and custom-tiled showers—all of which are not allowed. The most popular allowable amenities include: electrical lifts—for all the “toys”— surround sound, intercom systems, flat-screen TVs, custom seating and dining areas, accent lighting, spray mist systems and ample walk-in storage and organization areas.

Remodeling and updating older boat dock and boathouse structures include replacing wood decking with composite decking; removing the screened-in areas, which usually become bars, storage or upgraded seating areas; and maintenance-free siding and cornice, all of which only need periodic cleaning.

Lake living has and is continuing to evolve. As one of my favorite passages go, “If you are lucky enough to live on the lake … you’re lucky enough!”

Jeff Owen, owner of JOContractors, has been building and remodeling on the lake since 1999. While most projects consist of homes, renovations and additions, he has also observed, built and renovated several docks, boat shelters and structures on the lake.