Images: Chattel House
Chattel houses are fairly small, often brightly-colored homes that
can be dismantled and moved. Their mobility ("chattel" is a piece of
moveable property) was highly valued by plantation workers who didn't own the land on
which their houses sat. Without much notice, a worker could be fired and ordered off
the land where his or her house sat. It was more economical to dismantle the house
and take it to a new location rather than to build another. To this day, chattel
houses have loose stone foundations instead of poured concrete blocks as a way of
maintaining their mobile character.
Each house has a steep roof with short eaves to lessen the impact of
hurricanes. For windows, old chattel houses have shutter-like jalousies that can be
opened for circulation or closed against hurricanes. Modern houses, however, tend to
have glass windows instead.
Another feature common to chattel houses is corrugated metal siding.
Bajans use it for roofing, to add on a single room, or as fencing around their plot
of land. On the island, it's common to find entire neighborhoods full of corrugated
metal siding, chattel houses, and chickens.