Boats on a lake in Orlando.

Building a boat dock in Orlando: Orange County regulations and necessary permits

Building a dock today in Orlando is every bit as difficult as building a house. When buyers envision owning waterfront land, they’re often thinking of more than the scenic view. They think of swimming and they think of boating. But adding a boat dock is much more difficult than just sinking a few pilings on the water. A boat dock permit in Orlando just needs to follow some rules.

The government of Orange Country, Florida,  is serious about protecting the natural environment and sees anything next to the water as a possible pollutant with fines around $10,000 for violators. If homeowners absolutely must have a boat dock, they can. They just shouldn’t expect it to be easy. Even before the pollution control department will accept an application, builders will need evidence of clearance for the construction from either the city or county zoning department. In fact, three county departments have their say about boat docks, and city governments and two state agencies also have their regulations.

A building permit is a document required to commence legally sanctioned construction or renovation on a property. Every jurisdiction – including states, counties, cities and towns – has different requirements for issuing permits, along with different building codes and fees associated with the permits. Essentially, the Board of Permits and Inspections or Building and Zoning Board knows what the homeowner permit is for once a plan is submitted by a builder. Once fees are paid, permits are issued. Later, the agency will have the construction inspected to make sure it passes code.

An EPD permit is required prior to obtaining an Orange County Building permit for a new dock. Our permits review the dock construction for impacts to the environment and include review of side setbacks, roof height, terminal platform size and other specific criteria. Once you have obtained our permit, an Orange County Building permit is required.

Why Are Permits Needed?

The rationale behind building permits includes public health and safety, uniformity of construction quality and easier property valuation. The most crucial of these is health and safety. Buildings that are constructed, wired or plumbed improperly can lead to dangerous conditions that would affect more people than just the owner or occupants of a property. These conditions could include risk of fire from poor wiring, disease from poor plumbing and bodily harm from poor structural integrity. Many contractors will also point out that permit fees replace lost tax dollars during periods of economic downturn.

Local regulations regarding construction and renovation. In general, urban and suburban areas require more permits than rural areas; however, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

The following are circumstances that frequently require building permits in every city:

  • New Constructions: Constructing or building a new home or other structure generally requires a permit. This category includes structures like guest houses, garages, storage buildings and gazebos. Many areas also require a special building permit for fences and privacy screens if they are set in concrete.
  • Additions: This includes adding new rooms or a sunroom to a home, but it also encompasses the construction of patios, porches and decks as well, depending on local codes. Enclosing a garage may be considered an addition because it would increase the heated space of the home.
  • Major Renovations: This can include everything from restoring an older home to a dated kitchen renovation or garage remodel to a dreary bathroom. Many new homeowners who have purchased a fixer-upper get in trouble here by not applying for permits to renovate their vintage home or by deviating too substantially from submitted renovation plans.
  • Structural Changes: Structural changes generally involve alterations to the bones of the structure, including the addition or removal of walls or finishing an attic or basement space. Demolition is another example. These permits can be especially important when changing load-bearing portions of the structure because if these are altered in an unsatisfactory way, the structure could be condemned as unsafe.
  • Electrical, Plumbing and Mechanical Work: These three areas encompass an enormous amount of potential construction or renovation work and may require separate forms in addition to the actual building permit. Some examples of this type of work include installing outdoor lighting, adding a hot tub or replacing garage doors. Depending on the area, some of these projects may require a permit. In other locations, they may not. The installation of a sophisticated home automation system may also require a permit.


Max Francisco