In Praise of the Boathouse – Part II
I received a few questions about boathouses and other lakefront property issues after Monday’s post. Though I am not a county building inspector or a DNR official, let’s see if I can shed some more light on boathouse construction and repair. I’ll touch on some of those other questions, too.
- What is a “wet” and a “dry” boathouse?
Wisconsin law recognizes two types of boathouses; wet and dry.
A “wet” boathouse is a boathouse built completely or partially below the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM). The OHWM is “the point on the bank or shore up to which the presence and action of the water is so continuous as to leave a distinct mark either by erosion, destruction of terrestrial vegetation or other easily recognized characteristic.”
A “dry” boathouse is above the OHWM.
- Why is this distinction important?
Construction of new “wet” boathouses was banned in December 1979. Existing “wet” structures may generally be repaired, but no new ones may ever be constructed. In addition, “wet” boathouses may never be expanded, turned into living space, etc. Repairs always require a special Certification (login required) with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Construction, repairs, and expansions of “dry” boathouses are generally acceptable subject to setback rules, appearance standards, and regulations concerning size. These rules differ by county.
- Is there any way to construct a new “wet” boathouse?
- I live in x county. What are the rules?
- Instead of a boat house, I want to install a boat shelter or a lift/hoist. Do the rules change?
- What do I need to do for pilings?
Again, there is a helpful sheet! Please go here.
- Finally, what are the rules for a swimming raft?
Rules for swimming rafts are pretty relaxed, especially compared to boathouses, lists, and pilings. Take a look here for more information!
Though I am not a county building inspector or a DNR official and cannot give legal advice, it will still be my pleasure to help you with your lakefront property questions. Please don’t hesitate to call or email me with your questions!