Couple Uproots and Floats Dream Home Across Waterway to Make It Their Own

Moving is a stressful task, but moving a physical house across a waterway takes stress to a new level. But for Daniele Penney, it was worth it to uproot and float her dream house across the Bay of Islands in Newfoundland, Canada.

Penney told SaltWire, a Canadian newspaper publishing company, that she loved the more than 100-year-old house since she was a young girl.

"It's just something about the house," she said. "And it's not only for me—I think it's for everybody."

From the low ceilings to an old porcelain sink, Penney found several things in the house to love. Though skeptical at first, her partner, Kirk Lovell, found a reason to love the house as well.

However, they were not the owners of the house or the land that it sat upon.

The owners were planning to demolish the house to construct a new one, but Penney took it as an opportunity to finally get the house of her dreams. She spoke with the owners and was able to get her dream house after purchasing it for a small fee.

The couple decided the easiest way to move the house to a new location was to float it just more than a half-mile across the waterway, a practice that was used in the 1960s.

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Penney told Newsweek that it was her idea to float the house. At first, she wanted to put the house on a trailer and tow it to the plot of land, but the house wouldn't have been able to clear the powerlines and it wouldn't have crossed a narrow bridge.

"I wanted to see if it could float," Lovell said. "They did it back in the '60s and they never had much to work with. Today with modernized technology and equipment I figured why not."

Penney told Newsweek that her father moved many houses on land, but moving the house across water was a first.

According to the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Website, it was common for homeowners to float their houses to new communities following the Resettlement Act of 1965. A homeowner may be awarded grant money to help with moving costs and many homeowners took advantage of the program. One even managed to use his own vessel to float homes as far as 15 miles.

To float the house, SaltWire reported that Lovell built a frame with wheels for the house to sit on, along with 28 plastic barrels and Styrofoam insulation. With everything in place, it was time for the house to set sail on a clear October day, a difficult process for Penney to watch.

Newfoundland
A couple managed to float their dream house across the Bay of Islands in Newfoundland, Canada. An aerial shot of Great Islands, south of St. Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. DANIEL SLIM/Getty Images

"It was like you were teetertottering on faith," she said. "Was it going to stay afloat? Was it going to sink?"

She told Newsweek her hands were shaking, she felt sick and hopeless because she knew there was nothing that could have been done if it sank underwater.

Three dory boats were used to move the house through the water, but one of them broke and water rushed through the house. Despite the setback, Lovell got to shore and retrieved another dory. As people in the community gathered to watch the process, more people offered to help.

The house reached the banks of its destination and was brought up the hill to the land it will call its new home. Penney told SaltWire that she hopes to settle into the house by Christmas. She told Newsweek that the home is currently under renovation and plans to add their personal touch.

After spending years dreaming about the house, she told Newsweek that it feels "amazing" to now own it.

"I read this quote off Pinterest: 'Remember when you dreamt of the stuff you currently have.' It couldn't have been more fitting," Penney said.

Updated 10/20/2021, 3:11 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with comments from Daniele Penney.