The Chatham Cottage is the product of a hands-on, real world approach to teaching students in the Sustainability and Building Construction Technologies programs the principles, skills, and techniques in residential construction. Students utilize the same tools and techniques found on job sites throughout our region to build a small, high performance house from the foundation to the roof ridge. In the supportive learning environment of a classroom with a live lab attached to it, students become proficient in the many skills and techniques required to safely build homes in today’s high demand and growing construction and green building industries.

The Chatham Cottage, in several iterations designed by architect Michael Spinello AIA and built by students over the years, ranges from 450 sf to 550 sf enclosed space, utilizes conventional stick framing, as well as, high performance construction materials and techniques, passive cooling design, lots of storage for a small home, lots of natural light, and always, a front porch. Students install an Energy Star metal roof and quality windows from our supply partners.

Each year upon the completion of the final construction course, the Cottage is brought to a stopping point and auctioned to the highest builder. Proceeds ensure the continuance of the program and help provide scholarships for students.

For more information, contact Jeff Gannon, call (919) 545-8032 or email jgannon@cccc.edu

  • 560 gross square feet (including porch)
  • Custom designed with architect​, Mike Spinello, AIA

For more information, contact Jeff Gannon, call (919) 545-8032 or email jgannon@cccc.edu


Sustainable features:

Low energy consumption
A small footprint - The average new home size in America is around 2500 square feet. Chatham Cottage is around 448 sf, not including the porch, yet the space feels perfectly adequate, providing all the functionality of a conventional home. Many believe a side benefit of living small is not having as many unnecessary possessions.
High insulation values - The walls, floor, windows and particularly the roof, are well insulated, in order to retain the heat and cool.
Tight building envelope - When mechanical systems are used, a tight building envelope, in concert with high insulation values, keep the energy used for heating and cooling to a minimum.
Efficient lighting and appliances - Energy Star, LED
Passive solar heating
Long, thin form - Designed to be oriented with the broad side facing south. Building overhangs designed to allow winter sunlight to warm sides of building and penetrate glazing. Also contributing to low energy consumption.
Passive cooling
Long, thin form - Promotes cross ventilation, particularly in primary living spaces with windows on multiple sides. Also contributing to low energy consumption.
Overhangs - Designed to prevent summer sunlight from warming sides of building and penetrating glazing.
Cathedral Ceiling - Allows air to stratify and promotes circulation throughout.
Wooden rain - screen construction - Wooden cladding is a low thermal mass material, optimal for the hot and humid Southeastern climate. The rain-screen construction minimizes thermal bridging and allows the cladding to be ventilated from behind.
Long, thin form - Primary living spaces with windows on multiple sides allow for natural daylight to penetrate, thus lessening the need for electric light and increasing the psychological benefits of natural light. Also contributing to low energy consumption.
Low embodied energy
Local, sustainable materials
Photovoltaic and solar hot water ready
Broad, south facing roof - Allows for large number of photovoltaic panels and a solar hot water heater. If orientation and exposure are correct, net-zero energy consumption is possible