How Much Does a Boat House Cost?

Last Updated on January 19, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

For those fortunate enough to own prime waterfront property, constructing a boat house represents the pinnacle of luxury living.

Boat houses allow homeowners to have both a private dock and storage facility combined with a stylish waterside getaway perfect for relaxation, entertaining, and the boating lifestyle.

Of course, these aquatic abodes come at a substantial price – spending millions is not uncommon for larger, lavish boat houses.

Some cost factors are size, location, materials, foundation, features, and regulatory expenses. Ongoing ownership costs like maintenance, insurance, and utilities require additional budgeting

Construction loans, equity financing, or cash purchasing allow buyers to fund boat houses. While expensive, boat houses provide a blissful waterside living experience for those able to afford one.

How Much Does a Boat House Cost?

Simple prefab boat houses start around $30,000 while elaborate custom designs can exceed $2 million. Expect costs between $100,000 to $500,000+ for most livable boat houses.

Total price points can easily escalate from just $100,000 for basic prefabricated structures all the way up to $2 million or more for sprawling, multistory boat houses decked out with high-end finishes and premium amenities.

Understanding typical new build costs and the factors that influence pricing allows prospective buyers to realistically assess budget needs for this major waterfront investment.

Determining accurate boat house construction costs requires careful consideration of the intended size, layout, features, regulatory requirements, and custom design work involved. But even modest floating shelters or simple covered docking start around $30,000 or more to construct.

To provide a general idea of cost ranges, new boat house construction expenses typically breakdown as:

Prefab Basic Open Boat House costs between $30,000 to $100,000

  • Simple covered boat slip and storage space
  • Gravel floor, exposed beam roof
  • Approximately 500 – 1000 sq. ft.

Enclosed Boat Storage House costs between $100,000 to $250,000

  • Fully enclosed storage and mooring space
  • Insulated walls, finished interior
  • 500 – 2000 sq. ft.
  • Multistory Boat House with Living Quarters

Upper residence with amenities costs between $250,000 to $500,000+

  • Boat port below, covered decking
  • 2000+ sq. ft. interior living space

Luxury Custom Waterfront Boat Home costs between $500,000 to $2,000,000+

  • Lavish multilevel living like a lake house
  • Sprawling water-view decks and docking
  • 3000+ sq. ft. finished interior

According to, the average cost of a boathouse is reported to range from $20,000 to $85,000. The company offers boathouse construction and installation services, with a focus on improving life on the water.

Location and local land values play a major role in adjusting these averages. A deluxe boat house on a premium lakefront will far exceed a basic design along a remote river setting. Carefully researching recent regional construction costs provides the best ballpark.

Factors That Influence Boat House Costs

Several considerations significantly impact the total investment required to construct a new boat house:

  • Provide covered on-water docking and storage for boats and watercraft
  • Range from simple open shelters to enclosed structures with storage, living quarters, and other features
  • Offer direct water access for boating without trailering or marina fees
  • Ideal for securing and sheltering boats from sun, rain, storms, and other elements
  • Frequently used for waterside social gatherings, parties, relaxation
  • Living boat houses take advantage of beautiful panoramic water views
  • Make a majestic architectural statement along the shoreline
  • Offer seclusion from land yet close proximity by water
  • Provide additional living, recreation, or rental space on a property

For boat lovers lucky enough to own prime waterfront land, the chance to construct a custom aquatic residence tailored exactly to their needs and tastes provides an enticing opportunity. But budgets should match ambitions.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a boat, boat transportation, or boat storage.

What Drives the Costs of Boat Houses?

Many considerations influence what owners can expect to invest when building a new boat house. Key factors that impact pricing include:

Overall Size and Layout

  • Total square footage of structure and number of levels;
  • Open, enclosed, or combination layout;
  • Living areas, bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens;
  • Expansive outdoor deck and entertainment spaces.

Site Conditions and Foundation

  • Piling, floating, or land-based foundation types;
  • Water depth for anchoring and fluctuations;
  • Shoreline reinforcement needs;
  • Seabed or lakebed prep and dredging.

Construction Materials and Finishes

  • Structural framing material types – wood, treated timber, steel, aluminum;
  • Exterior siding and roofing materials like fiberglass, metal, cedar shakes;
  • Insulation, windows, doors, railings, trims, and hardware;
  • Interior finishes like hardwood floors, tile, kitchens, wet bars.

Amenities and Custom Features

  • Living quarters, entertainment systems, premium appliances;
  • Boat lifts, jet ski ports, PWC platforms, and accessories;
  • Solar power, backup generators, climate control systems.

Permitting, Surveying, and Design

  • Architectural and structural design fees;
  • Permits, zoning variances, environmental studies;
  • Surveying, site planning, geological assessment.

Location and Real Estate Values

  • Prime waterfront sites support premium boat houses but mean higher project costs.

As you can see, the possibilities for luxurious extras and outrageous costs are nearly endless for boat houses. Establishing a realistic budget is essential.

Detailed Cost Breakdown on a Sample Boat House

To provide a more detailed budgeting overview, let’s look at an itemized cost breakdown for a 1500 sq. ft. two-story boat house with basic living quarters:

Permits & Survey

  • Permits, design approvals, zoning – $1,000 to $5,000
  • Geological survey, site planning – $2,000 to $10,000

Foundation & Platform

  • Piling or floating platform – $15,000 to $50,000
  • Structural Framework
  • Timber or steel frame, roof trusses – $25,000 to $75,000

Exterior Surfaces

  • Metal roofing, fiberglass siding – $15,000 to $50,000
  • Windows & Doors
  • Energy efficient marine-grade – $5,000 to $15,000

Interior Finishes

  • Hardwood floors, kitchenette, wet bar – $10,000 to $50,000+

Mechanical Systems

  • Plumbing, HVAC, electrical – $5,000 to $15,000

Boat Slip

  • Mooring slip, boat lift – $10,000 to $30,000

Misc & Contingency

  • Unforeseen expenses, change orders – $5,000 to $10,000
  • Total Cost Estimate: $100,000 to $300,000

Larger or multistory designs with lavish finishes and features can easily exceed $500,000+, especially on prime waterfront locations. Obtain itemized quotes for accurate budgeting.

Ongoing Boat House Ownership Costs

Beyond just the initial build expense, owners must financially plan for ongoing boat house costs including:

Insurance & Taxes

  • Property hazard and flood insurance – $2,000 to $5,000+ annually
  • Property taxes – depends on local rates and valuations


Electric, water, sewer, fuel if applicable – $500 to $1500+ monthly

Maintenance & Upkeep

Structural, roof, and dock repairs – $1,000+ yearly

Pressure washing, painting, weatherproofing – $5,000+ every 5-10 years

Yard & Site Work

Shoreline dredging, erosion control – $2,000 to $10,000 periodically

Landscaping and yard maintenance – seasonal fees

HOA Dues

If part of a managed waterfront community – $100 to $500+ monthly


Systems draining, prepping for cold weather – $1,000+ yearly

Proper materials and vigilant upkeep are crucial to maximize boat house longevity in harsh marine environments. Budgeting for ongoing expenses is essential.

Financing and Loans for Boat House Construction

Beautiful Boat HouseSince boat houses are considered luxury recreational structures rather than primary residences, obtaining financing requires some strategic planning:

  • Cash Purchase is ideal if funds are available, avoiding financing costs.
  • Construction Loans requires qualifying like any residential construction loan.
  • Home Equity Financing – Leveraging existing property equity through HELOCs or cash-out refinancing.
  • Asset-Based Lending – Using investments or other assets to secure financing.
  • Personal Loans – Higher rates but flexible qualifying requirements

When researching options, remember boat houses on leased or public lands may face more restrictions. Those able to pay cash or leverage existing property equity usually have the easiest path toward financing such a substantial discretionary project.

But with pristine credit, verified assets, and financial resources, obtaining a loan for a boat house is very attainable.

For those with the means, combining idyllic waterfront views with the ultimate convenience of private, on-site docking makes boat houses an alluring dream come true.

Although they come at a significant price, for deep-pocketed boating and water sports enthusiasts, boat houses can provide a personal oasis that makes the financial investment worthwhile.

Frequently Asked Questions

What permits and regulations affect the cost of a boat house?

Permits and regulations can significantly affect the cost of a boat house. The cost may increase due to expenses related to obtaining the necessary permits, conducting environmental impact assessments, complying with zoning regulations, and meeting building code requirements.

Failing to adhere to these regulations can result in fines and additional expenses. Therefore, it’s essential to budget for permit fees and compliance costs when planning your boat house project.

Can I save money by purchasing a pre-built boat house?

Purchasing a pre-built boat house can potentially save you money compared to constructing a custom boat house from scratch. Pre-built boat houses are often manufactured in controlled environments, which can reduce labor and material costs.

They can also be installed more quickly, saving on construction time and associated expenses. However, it’s important to consider transportation costs to your specific location and the level of customization offered by pre-built options, as well as long-term maintenance and repair costs.

Is it more expensive to build a boat house on the waterfront?

Building a boat house on the waterfront can be more expensive than constructing one inland due to several factors. Waterfront property often comes at a premium price, so the initial land acquisition cost may be higher.

Additionally, building on or near the water may require specialized foundations, flood mitigation measures, and erosion control, all of which can add to construction expenses. Maintenance and insurance costs may also be higher due to the exposure to water-related risks.

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