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Chatham Cottage

Welcome - Chatham Cottage is a small, affordable and energy efficient home built by Sustainability Technologies students at Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro, NC.

The House

Students Working on House


This home is a great transition home for people wanting to move towards simplicity and sustainability. This 16' by 32' house can comfortably fit a single person or couple, is great for a guest house for the "mom-in-law", and is just as suited for an office space or vacation rental home. This small, energy efficient home is designed to allow the owner to enjoy their natural surroundings, rather than having to worry about the work involved in keeping up a larger home.

When buying a home, people often don't think about long term energy consumption and how much that is going to cost. If a house isn't sealed correctly or doesn't have proper insulation, the only person who will pay for that is the owner. Many people are concerned that energy efficient homes are too expensive. Our goal is to provide an energy efficient home using simple, cost efficient building science techniques that are often overlooked in the traditional building community. We aim to provide the consumer with a truly realistic way to save money and energy.

To achieve our goals we are doing the following:

  • The majority of the framing lumber is certified as sustainably grown and harvested by FSC or SFI.
  • The walls will be sheathed with two inches of rigid foam board with an R value of 5.5 to serve as a thermal break and move the thermal mass of the wall framing to the inside of the building envelope.
  • The blue board also serves as an air and vapor barrier. The idea behind using a thicker piece of foam is to move the condensation point into the middle of the sheathing board.
  • The temperature gradient causes the moisture to condense on the outside of the building envelope, allowing for direct control of the moisture level not only in the living area but also in the wall cavity.
  • The flooring system uses the 2" by 10" floor joists to tie the band and subflooring together to form a structural diaphragm.
  • The wall framing combined with the wall sheathing also acts as a diaphragm.
  • The sill seal (installed between the bottom plate and subfloor) acts as an air and vapor barrier in a location in which air infiltration is common.

All of these steps help to insure that the money you spend heating and cooling your house stays inside your house.