Building a perfect waterfront starts long before the first pile is installed. Be very thorough when planning your project and you will enjoy the results for decades to come.
Philipp Spoerndli of Nordcap Steel Docks says it’s important to pay careful attention to the existing conditions along the shoreline – and under the water – as well as to think about what you would like your waterfront to look like in 20 or 30 years.
With 32 years of experience building steel docks in Muskoka, Philipp knows that not all shorelines are equal. Some lakes or bays see enormous ice movement every year; others can see waves as high as six feet crashing ashore; and nearly all will experience flooding at some point.
With a keen eye and attention to detail, he also helps his clients envision the future of their waterfront and design a dock that will accommodate those plans. For instance, you may not build a boathouse immediately, but would like to in the future. It means designing the boathouse first, then planning the dock that will accommodate that structure when you are ready to build.
“Leave room to grow and think of the next generation that may own your waterfront,” advises Philipp. “We have found ways of incorporating certain components into a dock that allows expansion without major structural changes.”
Then there are the smaller details that will maximize the dock’s value and usability. Philipp and his team have added storage in spaces under stairs, used extra wide overhead doors to avoid damage to the boat when docking in rough weather, and developed other novel ideas.
However, even the best laid plans can be undone if the environment is not accounted for ahead of time: when you’re building a structure that will last for decades, you can be certain that Mother Nature is going to throw everything at it sooner or later.
The best designs consider those conditions while working with the shoreline, bedrock, water levels and other natural features, rather than against them.
Working in the area for over three decades has given Philipp the inside scoop on what potential issues could arise – and how to design around them to avoid future problems.
“Designing on the water takes a person who knows what to look for and understands the environment they’re working in,” he explains. “We’ve worked in all manner of environments, and I’ve learned how to design and build to get the optimal location with the optimal construction. Our engineer works with us to keep improving our docks, making them rock solid.”
Philipp is happy to provide the plans and engineering to home and cottage owners, even if they don’t choose Nordcap for the final installation.
“I want to see every dock planned out properly for longevity in Muskoka and lasting for generations.”
TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN