When your neighbor builds a crazy dock
By John Coley | Lake Property
Have you ever arrived at your lake house, only to be shocked to see a dock construction crew busily working on your neighbor’s dock? Or maybe you have been awakened early Monday morning to the sounds of power saws and nail guns?
Were you worried that your neighbor was building a crazily huge dock that would block your view of beautiful Lake Martin? Maybe you have never worried about something like this, but now that I mention it…
I am not suggesting that you become concerned about an event that may never happen. Even if a neighbor’s dock construction would never affect you, walking through the issue may help you by shedding light on the dock building, and more importantly, the dock approval process. So what should you consider if you fear that your neighbor’s Taj Dock-hal is about to ruin your experience?
It May Be A Money Move
The lake side of any home on Lake Martin is the most important side. I think that any improvement that you make to your dock or seawall stands the best chance of getting you back the highest return on your investment at resale. Forget HGTV tips like building a bigger closet in the master bedroom. Here at the lake, we care about the water. A better dock usually helps the home value, unless it blocks its own view. When your neighbor’s home is more valuable, it’s a good thing for you.
You may feel like storming over and asking your neighbors if they have lost their minds, but don’t act on that. Ease over there, smile and nicely inquire about their plans. You might find out that the construction won’t affect you at all. If there is a chance that your home could be impacted, sugar will work far better than salt. Recently, my friends Tom and Melissa felt a twinge of panic when they feared their neighbor’s dock expansion would kill their view. Tom, true to his nature, nicely discussed it, and his neighbor actually changed his plans to accommodate their wishes. I doff my hat to Tom, Melissa and the neighbor as great examples on how it should work.
Talk To Alabama Power
If after your nice talk you still are concerned, call the Alabama Power Shoreline Management Office in Dadeville at 256-825-0053. Anyone who builds anything over the water at Lake Martin must have Alabama Power’s approval. Why? Well, if you went to the trouble to build a dam and you own all the dirt under the water, you would feel that way, too. Almost any Lake Martin homeowner who works on their dock must have a permit secured before they start building. They are supposed to draw up a plan, schedule a meeting with someone from Shoreline Management, pay a submission fee and gain Alabama Power’s approval. If your neighbor has already started construction, yet does not have a construction permit from Alabama Power, then I would guess they will not be too happy when you let them know. Your neighbor may not know that Alabama Power considers lot lines and proposed constructions’ impact on the surrounding homes. Alabama Power has very clear guidelines, but they do reserve the right to make exceptions on a case by case basis. It does not pay to try and circumvent them.
If you have followed the above tips, and you still don’t like what your neighbor is building, I would advise you to return to Number 2: Be Nice. If you have appealed respectfully to your neighbor, if Alabama Power approves it, if your Homeowner Association (if it exists) approves it and they follow local building codes, there is not much you can do about it. You might as well be nice.
Take heart, because of all the homes I have seen on Lake Martin, I can think of only a very few where one neighbor really messed up the other neighbor’s lake experience.
John Coley is a broker and owner of Lake Martin Voice Realty. He is also the author of the blog Lake Martin Voice at LakeMartinVoice.com. John mourns for all children born after Coke’s glass bottle era.