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Chattel House is Barbadian slang for a small 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..It has been customary for persons in Barbados to build additions on to their chattel house occasionally. As such, the house may look as though different sections are at slightly different heights or in a different pattern due to each part being constructed at different stages.
- copyright © 2010 Susan Seubert
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