Sunday, January 18, 2015

What's the difference between a garage and a boathouse?

Do you want a garage or a boathouse at your cottage?

You might be wondering what the deference is between a garage and a boathouse, well to you there might not be much but to the local municipality there’s a huge difference.


A garage is considered an accessory building under the building code. As an accessory building it cannot have any real livable space. The difference is that you can park a car or boat or any of your other toys in it but there is no place in it for people to sleep.

Garage’s can be multiple rooms, they can be beside each other or behind each other, the one thing that they cannot have in most municipalities is two stories.

Garages can have power and water in them, they can have heat and the space can be used for more than storing boats, vehicles and toys. You can use it to store furniture, repair things and have a hobby room or a wood shop. There is almost no limit to what you can do with your garage as long as you don’t create bedrooms in the place.

Garages must have certain setbacks that must be observed when placing the building on your property. You must be a certain ways back from your lot lines and also from the high-water mark established by the local municipality or by the local conservation authority. Usually there is thought put into the placement of the garage so that it won’t affect your neighbours.


The boathouse is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a place to put your boat. Boat houses have heavy restrictions on what they can look like and how big they can be built. If you submit plans for a boathouse that has more rooms then just the ones to hold your boat and the gear associated with boating then it will be rejected by the municipal planning and building department.

The benefit to calling it a boathouse is that you don’t have to adhere to the setbacks of your property line or stay the appropriate distance from the high-water mark.

This allows you the opportunity to place a boathouse where it would be most useful; near the water.

Depending on the municipality you are building in will determine the size and extent of the boathouse you can build. It will also determine how close to the water you will be allowed to build.

In cottage country you don’t own the waterfront that your cottage is located on, the waterfront is owned by the government and controlled not only by the local municipality but the ministry of fisheries and oceans. This means that there are more levels of restrictions and approvals that you will require to receive permission to build a boathouse. You will be attempting to construct a building on the governments land for your own personal use. The restrictions not only apply to the size and placement of the boathouse but also on how it is constructed (to protect the environment).

When you are thinking about building another structure on your property think long and hard on what you want it for, is it a boathouse or is it a garage, the decision will not only cost you time it could also cost you a lot more money.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

No comments:

Post a Comment