I'm Mark Siddall.
Inspiration for this website first came when I put pen to paper and started writing down what I needed to think about when looking at plot of land and trying to determine whether it was suitable.
As time went on I realised that this growing idea of a website could make dreams coming true… for you and for me. I know that sounds funny, but let me explain.
...If you, like me, recognise that self-build enthusiasts, at their heart, have a pioneering and somewhat entrepreneurial spirit then you’ll know we have a willingness to challenge convention.
We demand better quality design and construction and are not prepared to accept the shoddy standards that the mass house builders provide.
I want this website to help support the Self-Build Community within the North East of England so that we can build better quality homes - and more of them. (By the way I include serious refurbishment and retrofits as being within the Self-Build Community.)
As a self-build enthusiast I have ace up my sleeve. I'm also an architect. This means that I have a good appreciation of design and the construction industry. Furthermore I have a specialism in ultra low energy design (Passivhaus if you are familiar with it).
I am passionate about improving the standard of UK housing and supporting better quality design and construction. It’s not simply because I’m socially or environmentally conscientious, though I am, or because I am an architect (which I am), it is because the current quality of design and construction is substandard and quite honestly boarders upon being irresponsible. ….I’ll tell your more about this at some point.
Anyway, I figured that the best way that I could support other self-builders was to bundle up some of my knowledge and experience into some handy downloadable guides and videos. I'm even in the process of preparing some live events where we can meet up, get to know each other and you can pick my brain.
The second reason for developing this website, as a sought after architect with a growing international reputation, was that it addresses a problem. The problem I had for years was that I used to get literally hundreds of requests for information and free Guides every year. It grew to the point where I couldn’t get back to everyone, it didn’t scale. There were more requests than time to answer.
So instead of giving the information to the lucky few who could get it, I made a choice to open the party up to whoever wants to come.
Now you can enjoy the site, gather information and do it all for FREE.
MY DREAM come true would be this… When you are at the point where you need help, and you feel comfortable choosing one of the six of so things you can do next on the left-hand side – come to a class, meet me for a hot beverage, or take a tour of homes.
So you see, this website allows me to both support the Self-Build Community AND to enables me keep on earning a crust. PLUS, by freeing up my time I am able to spend more time working with the clients. Everyone wins.
Enjoy the site!
Below is a bit more about me… personally and professionally, if you’re interested.
About the North East
If you're new to the region, the North East is a fantastic place to live. It's well known for its vibrant culture, offering its residents an abundance of art galleries, theaters and live music venues.
The Lonely Planet Bluelist once described the region as "the most exciting, beautiful and friendly region in the whole of England". Each area of the North East has its own distinct character, so you're bound to find a neighborhood that fits perfectly with your lifestyle.
If you have children to consider, this is a great region in which to bring them up. The North East is home to a number of schools that rank within the top 200 in the country. It's also proud to have the lowest pupil to teacher ratio outside of London.
Since moving here to the North East I've found that the city of Durham offers a vast array of facilities including a mix of local and independent shops, highly regarded schools, stunning architecture including the beautiful Durham Cathedral which is a world heritage site and is also surrounded by rolling countryside.
With excellent links for commuting via the A1(M) and railway station, part of the East Coast mainline. Durham is also home to a world famous university, which is comprised of a number of colleges including the impressive University College, based in the Norman Fortress in the heart of the city.
More About Me
I've not always lived in the region. I grew up in Ormskirk in Lancashire, then moved up here to read for a degree in architecture. I lived in Newcastle for 20 years before meeting Jen (my wife), then I moved to Durham. The North East is a great place. I love it.
I run a small architectural practice in Durham City called LEAP (it stands for Lovingly Engineered Architectural Process). The practice covers the entire North East, ranging from the Scottish borders and Northumberland to North Yorkshire. This includes major cities and commercial hubs, such as Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Durham and Teeside. Occasionally I work in the North West.
The practice is within easy reach of Durham city centre and surrounding villages including Shincliffe, Bowburn, Coxhoe, Kelloe, Quarrington Hill, Thornley, Ludworth, Wheatley Hill, Wingate, Shadforth, Sherburn, High Pittington, Belmont, Carrville, Gilesgate, Langley Moor, Meadowfield, Brandon, Brancepeth Village, New Brancepeth, Ushaw Moor, Bearpark, Esh, Langley Park, Esh Winning, Waterhouses, East Hedleyhope and Lanchester.
As one of the UK's leading architect's, over the last 8 years, I have spoken at conferences in the UK, Germany, Austria and New Zealand and written research papers and contributed to to a number of books.
My experience gives me a rather unique perspective, so if you have any questions about self-build then please don't hesitate to get in touch.
LEAP: a Lovingly Engineered Architectural Process
A regional architectural practice with an international outlook, LEAP was formed by award winning architect Mark Siddall in 2011. The practice provides design consultancy, energy analysis, project enabling and training for clients, design teams and constructors.
Building upon over 15 years of architectural experience, 6 of which have expressly focused upon the delivery of low energy buildings, issues of affordability, usability and practicality inform the practices approach and have increasingly led to an appreciation of the need for an integrated, consensus based, design process.
We deliver bespoke architectural designs catering for a variety of public and private clients. Our varied project portfolio includes new developments and the transformation of existing buildings and neighborhoods. We have experience in various sectors including, residential, education, commercial, heritage & cultural, civic, leisure and health.
Depending upon scale our work general falls into the regional and national categories. Providing that the project offer an opportunity for us to advance our understanding we welcome budgets of all sizes. Typically we have experience of projects in the range of £250k to £5m, but have experience of projects ranging between £40k and £18m.
As Passivhaus Designers and Consultants we offer strategic and pre-planning advice through to detail design, site supervision, commissioning and troubleshooting. Notably LEAP offers support to Self Builders.
As Passivhaus architects and energy consultants we typically serve the North East (Durham, Newcastle, Northumberland, Gateshead, Sunderland and Stockton-on-Tees), the North West (Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Mersyside, Cheshire and Cumbria) as well as Yorkshire and the Humber. On occasion we have been known to provide consultancy in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London.
Walking the talk
Walking the talk is important to the practice and to this end efforts are made to improve the sustainability of our own lifestyles and the way in which business is conducted. By harnessing these experiences, and the experiences of others, the practice seeks to assist with the ongoing development of the broader construction industry. In order to do this the practices experience and understanding is disseminated through learning programmes including: newsletters, courses, lectures, workshops and forums. These learning programmes can be, and in fact it is recommended that they are, used on the projects that the practice is involved with.
Supporting Mark is a team of associates that share his no-nonsense approach to sustainable design. For every project he assembles a bespoke project team, enhancing the practices offering with specialist services including:
Whilst we regularly engage with a range of consultants on a project specific basis our preferred design team, and regular collaborators, include:
Mechanical Engineer: Alan Clarke (Alan Clarke) / Andrew Farr
Structural Engineer: Lee Dayes (Dayes Kenyon Associates)
Acoustics engineering and Air leakage testing: Jack Harvie-Clarke and colleagues at Apex Acoustics
Quantity Surveying: Telford Hart
Strategic thinking on whole systems design: Nick Grant
As a result of our focus upon delivering value we have learned that, when sourcing building contractors and specifying responsibly sourced products and materials, developing and maintaining good working relationships is critical. Trusted members of our supply chain include:
Products and Materials:
Green Building Store
Ecological Building Systems
Assisted Domestic Self Build: J.D. Building and Joinery