Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 09.56.06A Tynedale couple, who live in an award-winning farmhouse, are opening their door to visitors next month as part of the International Passivhaus Open Days.

Trevor and Judith Gospel say their self-build dream home has provided comfort and practicality as well as saving them a small fortune in energy bills.

Their house at Steel Farm, near Hexham, is the North East’s first privately owned home to meet the Passivhaus standard – the world’s leading quality assurance standard for comfortable, sustainable, low energy buildings.

Unlike some other building standards it can only be achieved through superior building design and craftsmanship. In essence it is the future-proof formula for the buildings of tomorrow.

From 13th to 15th November the Gospels – and other Passivhaus owners across the world – are inviting people to see what makes their house so special.

“I think it is fantastic that Trevor and Judith are opening up their home,” said architect Mark Siddall from Durham-based LEAP (Low Energy Architectural Practice). “It’s a great opportunity to see and experience the result of a successful project which they are immensely proud of.

Visiting will be an inspiration for anybody building a new home or just refurbishing an existing one.”

There is likely to be a lot of interest and anybody wanting to look round Steel Farm is urged to register before 1st November.

The house is in an isolated location, subject to severe winter weather and has to function both as a home and a hub at the centre of a 150 acre organic farm.

It is also in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, had to meet rigorous planning requirements and needed to fulfil the Gospels’ desire for a low energy home.

Not only did Mark and his main contractor – Newcastle-based JD Joinery and Building -overcome all these challenges, Steel Farm has also achieved significant recognition within the construction industry.

Earlier this year it was named Best Small Project in the UK Passivhaus Awards and last month it received three nominations for Best Value, Best Eco Home and Best Masonry at the prestigious national Build It Awards.

Judith says the fridge in their previous home was warmer than the living room. “We’ve always lived in traditional farmhouses that were old, cold, damp and dark.  We didn’t want any of that.

“In the winter it can be very wild and when you come in from outside there’s not a breath of draught and it’s always warm,” she added.

Despite the house’s warmth, the Gospels’ annual heating bill is just £395 – and that is using expensive LPG.  If the house was on mains gas it would save the Gospels about £1000 per year compared to the average cost of heating a home in the North East.  Carbon emissions are 90% less than a typical house.

Judith said: “More than the savings in the energy bills and the reduced environmental impact, we are enjoying the comfort, light and space of our new home.”

The two previous Passivhaus Open Days at Steel Farm have attracted almost 150 visitors. Mark Siddall, who is coordinating the event for Trevor and Judith, said: “Understandably this is probably going to be the last one. So I would urge people to register as quickly as possible.”

You can attend one of the Passivhaus Open Days by registering at or calling Mark at 0191 375 7702.