This article was originally published in the 2019 Summer issue of Invest In Style Magazine.


Which permits you’re going to need depends a great deal on where you plan to construct your boathouse. That includes who owns the property and in which municipality you plan to build.



Some municipalities allow two storeys with habitable living space, some only allow single storeys with no living space, and some don’t allow boathouses at all. Make sure your first call is to the local municipal office before you start drawing up too many extravagant plans.


Most municipalities require builders to have their boathouses either designed or approved by an engineer, and all require you to have some sort of building permit. If youre building a new boathouse, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll either be building on municipally-owned lands (like an original shore road allowance) or on lands owned by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).


Purchasing an original shore road allowance is generally considered a smart move. The cost is much cheaper than most shoreline property in Muskoka and it increases the footprint of your cottage property. It’s also best to check in with the MNRF before you build as they might require work permits of their own. If you do need a work permit, you’ll also need to create a site plan or survey detailing the work you plan to undertake. Depending on how you propose to support your boathouse (i.e., cribs or steel piles) there might be additional MNRF permits that come into play.


Once you have all the proper permits in place, you can begin taking a closer look at some of the more detailed plans. How many boat slips will you require and how big do they need to be? What system will you use to get your boats in and out of the water? Does your boathouse require water and septic services, and is your current system up to the additional usage?


Remember, you’re likely going to use your boathouse for many years to come, so take into account your current and future needs.


Some of the boathouses that populate Muskoka have stood for more than a century. With some good planning and a bit of luck, yours could be right there beside them, 100 years from now.

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