"Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results."
I'm Mark Siddall. Finance permitting I intend to start building a Passivhaus for my family in late 2018.
Inspiration for this website first came when I put pen to paper and started writing down what I needed to think about and describing what kind of house my family would like to live in.
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, 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 Passivhaus Community within the North East of England so that we can build better quality homes - and more of them.
As an advocate of Passivhaus 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.
My interest in Passivhaus developed in 2006 when I learned that buildings are not performing as they should. They are less comfortable, use more energy and have a larger environmental impact that they are designed to.
The Passivhaus Skeptic
One thing you should know is that I am a Passivhaus skeptic. That's right, even though I am an advocate I do so only because it is the best standard that I have found to date.
In 2006 there were not Passivhaus buildings constructed in the UK. To be sure that it was suited to the UK climate I reverse engineered the entire concept in order to prove to myself that it was appropriate. To do this I learned Building Physics, and mined the history of low energy building design, and consumed hundreds (yes, hundreds) of academic research papers.
What I found was, despite a few minor chinks in the armor, the Passivhaus Standard appears to be pretty robust. Certainly more so than anything else in the UK.
You may not be aware of this but evidence suggests buildings are not performing as they should. This is not due to how people use buildings, but how (poorly) they are designed and constructed.
I am passionate about improving the standard of UK construction 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's because the current quality of design and construction is substandard, irresponsible and could lead to well meaning Developers and Contractors breaching the Consumer Rights Act when they sell a property.
Neither consumers, nor the well meaning developers or contractors, need to fall foul of the Consumer Rights Act.
Evidence suggests you, when you build to the Pasivhaus Standard you are much more likely to get a building that performs as predicted.
How can I help you?
I figured that the best way I could support Passivhaus enthusiasts, and other people that are interested in Passivhaus, 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, theatres 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 neighbourhood 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.
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.