People say you need to think outside the box, but Holly Doucette, while riding with her boyfriend Tyler MacIntyre, had a great idea that involved thinking inside the box. Using an old 53-foot reefer trailer, the two built an amazing tiny home for themselves on Prince Edward Island in eastern Canada. After posting some pictures on Facebook and getting a huge positive response, I reached out to Holly to get the inside scoop about this amazing build, which also involved Tyler, her “partner in crime” and a trucker for Armour out of Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Having always been a star pupil, Tyler can do anything he tries perfectly. Bradford Doucette (aka Holly’s dad) had most of the tools they would need, and he became the Site Supervisor. He also helped out with lots of good ideas. Holly’s brother and sister-in-law, Cody Doucette and Samantha Gaudet, working as a team, helped knock Holly’s idea out of the park! Cody is a real jack of all trades and helped walk them through the build! Tyler and Holly had already stripped down a 35’ camper trailer to completely renovate and made it their first tiny house.
One day, when Holly was helping Tyler unload, she said, “Why don’t we use a 53’ trailer and build it into a bigger tiny home?” They were in a dry box when Holly got the idea, but they quickly decided that a reefer trailer would be perfect. With the walls and floor already insulated, this would help cut down on expensive construction materials. The walls were square, the ceilings would be high, and they would have nearly double the length of their current renovated camper trailer. Their new home would be long and skinny.
In July 2021 blueprints were drawn and redrawn until they came up with a working layout. With the width being only 8’ wide, it was important to make the most of every inch of space. Planning for as much storage as possible was important, too. Without advanced construction skills, they started putting together their new tiny home.
It was now that they began thinking “outside the box” to make the most of inside the box. With basically a blank space, they could purchase things like windows that were available and then cut the holes for them instead of having to order (and wait) for specific sizes. A big window was put in the space where the reefer had been. The hardest part was precisely cutting the walls for the windows and the door. Plywood was put over the ribbed reefer floor which made it easy to lay out and attach an 8’ wide roll of lament flooring to the plywood.
With the floor down, the biggest challenge now was finding where all the uprights were in the walls so they could attach 2×2 strips of wood. These pieces would give them a place to run wiring and also attach 8’ sheets of paneling. The ceiling was dropped to 8’ so the paneling would fit without any piecing or cutting. With the lowered ceiling, it also made a nice place for the wiring, lights, and fans in the ceiling.
For the utility closet, Holly’s dad had a great idea to hide the furnace, hot water heater, and washer and dryer. Leaving the back doors on the trailer, it made for perfect access to work on all these things, as well. They built walls in this area to add extra insulation on both sides to help protect even more from the cold. A wall in front of this looks nice inside and allows access to the washer and dryer, which Holly is so excited to have in her new home.
They used a furnace from a mobile home and an apartment-sized washer and dryer, which they were able to stack, and they also installed a big water heater, so there will always be plenty of hot water. The house is wired at 110-volt, so they had to make sure nothing needed 220V power. This small detail made so much sense for the future ease of working on anything if need be. They tried to keep all the plumbing near here, as well. It really is easy to cool and should be equally easy to heat in the winter.
The home is parked permanently on land near Holly’s brother’s house. The lines were run for water, sewer, and electric and hooked up much like a manufactured house would be. They left the wheels on so if one day they would want to move it that would be an option. Underneath the trailer they put down asphalt, and once the skirting is all up, this will become a perfect storage space for the lawn mower, yard tools, and in the winter, their outdoor furniture. They also have used an old box truck box as a small shed for even more storage.
They are talking about building stairs and putting an outdoor patio on top of their home next summer. Kind of a rooftop patio, like they have in the big city, but they get to enjoy the beautiful views offered by Prince Edward Island. In its former life, this trailer hauled freight, but now it’s been transformed into a cozy, comfortable, paid for home. Holly said they are enjoying the fact that they don’t have a mortgage to deal with. And with the crazy prices of homes these days, it makes this great idea even more appealing to would-be homeowners.
Holly was very surprised at all the interest her idea has sparked since she first posted pictures on Facebook, and I have to say, when I saw the pictures of what they had done, I thought, “How smart!” This would make for the coolest retirement community for truck drivers. Just imagine a bunch of these tiny homes, built out of old trailers, all put together in the same area. I can just imagine all the stories that would be told as these retired drivers sat around a big fire pit, in the evening, telling trucker tales. Thank you to both Holly and Tyler for letting me share your story and the pictures of your new home. Sometimes, thinking inside the box pays off.