2019 Passivhaus Open Days

Make the most of this rare opportunity to experience one of England's few privately owned, Passivhaus Certified homes.

Visit on ​8th, 9th or 10th ​November 2019 

Registration Closes In:


​Choose which Passivhaus ​you'll visit this time:

FRIDAY 8th to Sunday 10th November | Larch Corner, Warwickshire

Larch Corner (20 mins from Stratford upon Avon) is a timber lovers paradise. Located at the edge of the Cotswolds this house is simple, modern and minimal. If you want to indulge in something truly different, this is the tour for you. 

SATURDAY 9th November | Steel Farm, Northumberland

Steel Farm (15 mins from Hexham) was the North East's first privately owned Passivhaus. A simple farmhouse located in an Area of Outstanding Beauty (ANOB). Getting planning permission was a challenge, so if you've got a remote rural site, visit and you'll learn all about how to put your house on the right track.

SUNDAY 10th November | ​​Shepherds Barn, County Durham

​FULLY BOOKED! ...so visit next time!
Join the waiting list to find out​ when Shepherds Barn next opens it's doors.

Shepherd's Barn, near Lanchester, is the first dwelling in the North East to achieve EnerPHit, the Passivhaus Institute's retrofit standard. If you have thought about retrofitting your house to improve comfort, reduce health problems (like asthma), avoid unwanted bills and slash carbon emissions, this is the tour for you. 

NOT TAKING PART | Preston Springs Passivhaus, North Yorkshire

Preston Springs Passivhaus

You'll find Preston Springs Passivhaus near Leyburn. 
It's not currently taking part in the Open Days. But if you'd like to VISIT NEXT TIME, click on the button below and you'll get an update next time the house is open to the public.

​Can't Make It This Time?​Join the waiting list

​There are two International Passivhaus Open Day events each year. One ​is mid-summer, ​the other is ​late-autumn. If you don't want to miss out ​next ​time, join the waiting list.
...​Occasionally there are ​Secret Open Day events ...but you'll only find out about them ​if you're on the waiting list.

​Visit Northumberland's Only Passivhaus
Passivhaus Open Days

This year let's support cancer charity Bright Red

...and punch cancer in the face. 

Hello and welcome.

Thank you for coming to learn about the Passivhaus Open Days.

I'm Mark Siddall, the Architect and Passivhaus Designer of the house you're going to visit on ​November 8th, 9th or 10th.

Just in case you didn't know....

Access to the open day is FREE, however there is a cap on the total number of visitors and the size of groups.

You're in for a treatThis is the first time ​Shepherd's Barn has been opened to the public. 

​As it's a retrofit it is one of the most interesting and exciting Passivhaus projects I've worked on - so we are expecting ​a lot of interest. To ensure you get the most from your visit we are restricting the number of tours and the size of tour groups.

Because access is limited, I strongly suggest that you register early. There are four tours per day and each tour group is limited to no more than 6 people. Qualifying visitors can bring a guest - however they must be pre-registered. 

You might be wondering, where the house is... Out of respect ​privacy ​the precise location - post code, etc. is kept under wraps until you've registered. A day or two before your visit, I'll send you all the information you'll need.

In the mean time consider this: ​Shepherds Barn ​is just outside Lanchester (about ​15 minutes ​north of ​Durham).

The Best Reasons To Visit A Passivhaus Home

There is nothing quite like experiencing a Passivhaus for the first time. Words can't capture how it feels and what it's really like. Some describe them as tranquil and serene. An oasis of calm. Others rave about the abundance of light.

In this respect ​Shepherds Barn is no different, but what sets it apart is the ​reuse of an existing barn. Simply put, ​​Shepherds Barn is a ​template for bringing new life to old buildings.

Almost every fibre of this contemporary 3-bedroom single storey home has its origins in reused masonry or sustainably sourced timber – not only reducing emissions during processing and manufacture but curtailing carbon emissions during use.

Internally voluminous spaces and minimalist detailing combine to create a simple, uncluttered sense of space. The house forms an architectural backdrop for everyday life.

​In a time of climate breakdown ​Shepherds Barn demonstrates ​how we can make old buildings fit for the future. ​In doing so it shows how environmental damage can be minimised ​and even ​indicat​es ​how it can contribute to more restorative actions, whilst letting the human spirit soar.

​What people say about a LEAP Passivhaus design​:

"The thing I liked most about the house was the sense of protection from the elements.  It was very windy when we were there but inside it was quiet and peaceful."
- Carole Price

"There is a lot of light from the windows and good use of the views. Congratulations on a really successful build and evidently it has been relatively trouble-free and low maintenance. We enjoyed our visit enormously.”
- Anon

"I felt the front of the house was very inviting and gave the feeling that the house was rather grand, the stairs and lighting add to this feeling. There was something inviting about it, I think the entrance hall added to this experience, giving you that homely inviting appeal as you walked through the front door."
- Graeme Little

"The one thing that struck me the most was the excellent light levels together with the views from windows."
- Frances Hinton

When you visit you'll discover firsthand how the air feels fresher, the temperature feels more 'right', how you have more control over your comfort, how a well designed ventilation system is quieter than a whisper and how there are no perceptible drafts.

PLUS, you will actually experience what it feels like to live in a house with excellent daylight, optimised views and how a tailor-made room layout, that suites your needs precisely, enhances your lifestyle.

You'll also get to see how easy it is to maintain the ventilation system and how good plumbing design can really make a difference to how you experience living in your home.

...It all sounds simple, and it can be, but you'll only understand it when you take this opportunity to experience a Passivhaus for yourself.

Finally you will also have the opportunity to discover more about the design and construction ​process from me and, with a little luck, ​Paul and Sonnry (the owners) ​will be on hand to tell you about their experience building the house.

Of course, in addition to seeing the house you will have the opportunity to meet other visitors - people from the retrofit and self-build community - which means you will have the chance to swap ideas, trade stories and help each other progress your project.

Regardless of these things your visit should, one way or another, help you to clarify what it is you want, or don't want, from your new home.

Indulge in the Passivhaus Experience

10th November 2019 

So who should be interested in the open day? 

The Passivhaus Open Days are run to help the public gain a better appreciation about what it is like to experience living in a Passivhaus. Whether you are looking to build a new home, or refurbish an existing one, this event should be of interest to you.

In short if you are looking to build a new home, or refurbish an existing one and want to start a building project within the next 12 to 18 months then this is an event that you shouldn't miss.

....but why is the Passivhaus Open Day important, and why should you come?

Whilst it may sound a little over dramatic it is actually fair to say that...

...The UK Homebuilding Industry is in Crisis

Over the last 20 years studies by Leeds Beckett University have shown that new homes are not performing correctly. They use more energy than they should, are less comfortable and pose a risk to your health and well being. This means that when hiring an architect or a builder you and your family may not be getting the quality that you are paying for.

Luckily Leeds Beckett University have also found that with the correct design and construction these performance issues can be addressed.

The research suggests that many of the lessons for addressing the homebuilding crisis can be found in homes built to the Passivhaus Standard.

The Passivhaus Standard is the world's leading quality assurance standard for ultra low energy buildings. It is the pinnacle of best practice. The decision to construct a well executed home that satisfies this standard presents a number of benefits and opportunities. These include:

1.  Reducing space heating bills by 90% as compared to the average home
2.  Reducing hot water bills by 50% through the use of appropriate plumbing design, taps and appliances
3. How the fossil fuel used for domestic hot water was cut by 80% when we combined water efficiency with solar thermal panels
4.  Providing a strategy for reducing electrical energy use by over 50%
5.  Providing excellent standards of thermal comfort with little recourse for space heating
6.  Addressing the health and well being of the occupants by providing homes that are appropriately ventilated whilst keeping noise levels to a minimum. This includes reducing the risk of asthma attacks, reduced incidence of hay fever and other allergies and, the thing that surprised me most, reduced pain from arthritis.
7.  Reduced risk of mould growth and cold spots. This not only extends the life of building components but also protects the health of the occupants.
8.  Increasing resilience to rising fuel prices and prices fluctuations in a robust manner - thereby minimising, if not mitigating, the risk of fuel poverty in the future
9.  Conserving fossil fuels for future generations
10.  Cutting carbon emissions which is good for the environment and our kids.

Whether you are looking to build a new home, or refurbish an existing one, this event should be of interest to you.

My Personal Mission

For ​​the last 13 years or so, since I learned about the homebuilding crisis, I have been assisting with the transformation of the construction industry. I've delivered training to professions and students and, of course, I've completed building projects.

Over the years I've found that the best way to transform the construction industry is to create change from within. And that means by getting more cutting edge projects out there to stimulate debate and show how things can be done differently!

It is for this reason, and because of some lessons learned from earlier open day events, that I'm trying something different.

​This Year There Is A Qualification Process

Within the construction industry self-builders, retrofitters and ethical property developers are known for spearheading better quality standards. This means they are ​the people that can benefit most from visiting a Passivhaus and learning ​how it was designed and built.

Sadly, because of the first-come-first-served policy I used in the past, some of self-builders, retrofitters and ethical property developers got turned away from the open days - even though they were actively wanting to complete a ​worthwile project.

That's why I'm trailing a different kind of application process this year.

​So, if you are a self-builder, retrofitter or an ethical property developer ​I consider it my duty to support you - whether or not you choose to work with me at some point in the future. Also, because of the Climate Emergency, I am supporting councillors ​and Durham County Council ​so that they can make more informed decisions when reviewing planning applications.

This year the ​focus of the Open Days is on ​people that have bought (or are about to buy) land and want to complete their project within the next 12 to 18 months.

​Once the pro-active few have been given their chance see the house the remaining spaces will be allocated to regular members of the public that are simply interested (or not in a position) to move forward at this point in time.

​I hope that sounds fair.

Here's what to do next: 

Step 1: Enter your name and email address into the the registration form below. (When the time is right this will allow me to send you the 3 free videos and to send you more details should your application be accepted.)

Step 2: Please complete the short questionnaire. This will allow me to prioritise those people that can make the most difference and enable me to give them first option for visiting Steel Farm.

Qualifying visitors can bring a guest - however they must pre-register as well. Access is limited, so please pre-register early.

Step 3: After the 5th November I will confirm the dates and times of attendance, and I'll give you all the information that you need to get to the house on the day. 

Deep down you know you want to join us ;-)

On 10th November 2019