What is a Chattel House? I've learned...
Chattel House is a Barbadian word for a small moveable wooden house that working class people would occupy. The term goes back to the plantation days when the home owners would buy houses designed to move from one property to another. The word "chattel" means movable property so the name was appropriate. Chattel houses are set on blocks or a groundsill rather than being anchored into the ground. In addition, they are built entirely out of wood and assembled without nails. This allowed them to be disassembled (along with the blocks) and moved from place to place. This system was necessary historically because home "owners" typically did not own the land that their house was set on. Instead, their employer often owned the land. In case of a landlord tenant (or employer/employee) dispute, the house could be quickly moved to a new property. Beautiful, charming, and pretty unique to Barbados.
By Barry Brown, AFAR Staff
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