Types Of Houses Chattel House

Chattel House

Chattel House is a Barbadian slang for small wooden houses that can be moved from one place to another. The word “Chattel” means movable properties. These houses are occupied by the working class people. Chattel houses are usually set on blocks rather than being attached to the ground. These houses are built entirely out of wood and are assembled without using nails. This allowed people to dismantled and moved from place to place. This system was necessary historically because the home owners typically did not own the land; their employers often owned the land.

Modern Chattel house have greater degree of permanence as they are connected to electricity main and a permanent septic tank or connected to a public sewer system.


Timbers were cut in to standard lengths of 12 to 20 feet. The front façade tend to be symmetrical with doors in centre flanked by windows on the either side. Additional changes would be made as per the financial situation. The roofs are made of corrugated metal made of iron.

  • • A single unit was the first-step, consisting of two rooms within. These were often called a "one-roof house".
  • • Next, a shed may be added onto the back. The second roof added, was often called the "shed roof".
  • • Further-yet another roof was often later added on to the home, transforming it into a "two-roof house and shed". In some cases a "three-roof house" might even be developed with a final shed at the back for use as a kitchen.

As the dimensions changed the style of roofs also changed. These earlier styles gave way to the four-sided roof called the 'hip'. or the steep two-sided gable'. Since then many homes have also transitioned to a more 'flat top' roof with a minimal slope.

Chattel houses are still in use on several West Indian islands, although they have become much less common in areas still affected by seasonal hurricanes (Barbados and Trinidad lay outside of the Caribbean hurricane belt).

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