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Dock & Bulkhead Permit

Where Can We Get a South Carolina Dock & Bulkhead Permit

South Carolina is surrounded by beautiful coastal waterways that are rich in plant and animal species. The saltwater marshes provide livelihood as well as recreational opportunities.

It is extremely important to keep the coast protected. That is why the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) encourages responsible development in and around the waterways. They make sure that everyone who wants to install a dock or bulkhead secures a State SCDHEC-OCRM and Beaufort County permits as well as an Architectural Review Board (ARB) approval prior to construction.

You want to work a company who is knowledgeable about state regulations and the application process in obtaining a dock and bulkhead permit. Surveying Consultants can help you with this.

Contact Surveying Consultants at 843-815-3304 Today!

SCHDHEC-OCRM Regulations

Docks shall be designed and built in accordance with the design specifications approved by the SCDHEC-OCRM. Here are the regulations to be observed:


  1. Docks will not be permitted on creeks less than 10’ feet wide as measured from marsh vegetation on each side.
  2. All dock floats and/or mooring piles must be constructed so that the overall width does not exceed 30% of the lot’s waterfront frontage.
  3. No part of the walkway, pier-head, floaters or pilings shall be constructed any closer than 20’ feet from either side of the property line.
  4. Dock walkways shall not exceed 4 feet in width.
  5. Docks lengths cannot exceed Beaufort County dock ordinances.
  6. Docks cannot be enclosed by walls or screens. Enclosed boat houses are prohibited.
  7. Walkways of the dock or pier should be elevated at least four feet above mean high water.
  8. All piers and docks must use industry standard treated timber.
  9. The maximum pier-head size shall be no greater than 256 square feet.
  10. Access to the dock walkway should be such that minimal disruption to vegetation in the setback takes place. Remove no shoreline vegetation root system. Only minor necessary pruning for construction of walkway is permitted.
  11. Boat lifts will be reviewed on an individual basis.
  12. The primary float must not exceed no more than 30% of frontage and no more than 10 feet in width. If a protector float is added, it must not exceed 6 feet in width.
  13. Handrails shall be limited to a maximum height of 36” above the walkway of pier head docking. Standard 4 x 4 bolted, picket or knee brace rails are recommended.


  1. Storage on docks will be limited to a bench-like locker no larger than 3 feet high, by 3 feet deep, by eight feet long.
  2. Boathouses, structures, and roofs are not permitted.
  3. All canvas boat covers shall be of a neutral, unobtrusive color.
  4. Aluminum ramps are prohibited.
  5. Davits (small crane for suspending and lowering a lifeboat) are not permitted.
  6. Dock lights must be subdued. Timers or motion detectors must be installed to limit usage to times when the dock is being used. Lighting should be low to the walkway and low voltage. Electrical permits are required to install lighting and all plans must be pre-approved by the ARB.
  7. Bright metal fittings shall not be used.
  8. Hull scraping, sandblasting, painting, paint removal, and major engine repair are prohibited on lifts and docks.
  9. If more than 50% of a dock is destroyed the property owner must re-submit to OCRM and the ARB for permits to re-construct. The property owner is responsible for the clean-up and removal of any debris in the Critical Area resulting from damage to your dock.
  10. Any other repairs or restorations to docks and/or bulkheads require ARB approval and permit and all work must be completed within six (6) months.
  11. Property owners may restore and/or maintain seawalls to the original design only after obtaining the required permits from local and state agencies along with approval of the Architectural Review Board.
  12. The ARB will require an as-built survey to include all components of the constructed structure and must include the walkway start and the end point located.


  1. Bulkheads will not be allowed on lots not designated as marsh or Colleton River lots.
  2. Bulkheads must be constructed of timber woodpile, and tongue and grove timber sheeting.
  3. Aluminum and vinyl sheeting materials are not allowed.
  4. Only clean earthen material free from all potential sources of pollutions may be used as backfill.
  5. The river buffer will be planted in grasses and native shrubs to meet the County buffer requirement for disturbed areas.
  6. DHEC, OCRM and Beaufort County permits are required before ARB permitting.

Surveying Consultants Can Get You a South Carolina Dock & Bulkhead Permit

Surveying Consultants has helped numerous residents and businesses get their docks and bulkheads constructed without a hitch. This is a result of years of experience and research on the subject.

We service Hilton Head, Bluffton, and the greater Beaufort areas of South Carolina. And we have also expanded our services to Savannah, Georgia. Get your South Carolina dock and bulkhead permit hassle-free. All it takes is a phone call. Talk to one of our professional surveyors.

Call Surveying Consultants at 843-815-3304 Now!

Surveying Consultants
17 Sherington Dr # C, Bluffton, SC 29910