The advantages and disadvantages of buying a bungalow
Bungalows have a widespread appeal here in the UK and are increasingly sought after, especially as there are fewer and fewer new ones being built.
They have long since been associated with British suburbia and you’d be forgiven for thinking that they originated on these shores. In fact, although bungalows first made an appearance in the UK during the late 19th century, this style of home originated in the Bengal region of Southern Asia. The word bungalow derives from the Hindi word ‘Bangala’, which means a home in the Bengal single-storey style.
The trend of bungalows spread from Bengal to become popular in many countries worldwide, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, the United States and, of course, the UK.
Although they’re often perceived as being for older homeowners, an increasing variety of people, young and old, are realising the benefits of living in a bungalow.
If you’re potentially in the market for a bungalow, here are the key pros and cons to consider…
The advantages of buying a bungalow
1) More space and privacy
As mentioned above, fewer new build bungalows are available on today’s UK property market. Consequently, a lot of the bungalows that are available were built in the previous century, and as such tend to have larger plots.
There are various benefits associated with this, including more privacy and space between you and your neighbours, a larger garden, plus more potential area to extend outwards, should you wish to in future. Additionally, if you’re surrounded by other bungalows, you won’t have anyone overlooking your garden.
Space for car parking is also usually less of an issue, aided further by the fact that there are often fewer cars per household in an area associated with an older demographic.
2) Easier to move around the home
If you or a member of your family has mobility challenges and / or uses a wheelchair, then living in a bungalow is usually a much better option than the alternatives of either a house or flat. Single-storey living of course means that there are no stairs to negotiate and that all rooms are more easily accessible.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you intend for your bungalow to become your ‘forever home’ then although you might not have any challenges now, the bungalow will be suitable for you in later life, should you develop any mobility issues.
That said, even if you don’t have any mobility problems, many people who live in bungalows find that there are many practical, day-to-day benefits of living on one level. For example, there isn’t the need to climb up and down stairs to go to some rooms, go to the toilet or collect things such as washing and bring it back down the stairs.
Finally, moving larger items such as furniture around the home is also easier and this is particularly advantageous when moving in. Anyone who has ever tried to move furniture pieces such as a bed or large chest of drawers up a flight of stairs will attest to the fact that it’s neither easy nor enjoyable.
3) Great for children
Although there are often misconceptions that bungalows are only for older people, they are in fact equally ideal for families with younger children.
Some of the particular benefits include:
- Children can play in their bedrooms and you can still keep a relatively close eye on them.
- There are no stairs, which alleviates a key safety issue that is presented in houses.
- The absence of stairs also means that it’s easier to move children around the house, which is particularly beneficial when trying to get them into the right room at meal, bath and bed times.
- Especially in older bungalows, gardens are often a more generous size, which means more room to play outside.
4) Easier to clean and maintain
For starters, no longer will you need to face vacuuming the stairs and, for some, that’s the deal clincher, right there. However, the practical cleaning benefits don’t end there, as it’s also easier to clean things such as windows.
As well as the cleaning benefits, bungalows are also easier to maintain. Elements such as roofs, gutters, facias and cladding are much more easily accessible than they would be on a house.
Stairs are a very common cause of accidents in houses, as a result of trips and falls, and of course this element of risk is removed with single storey living.
In the event of a fire, evacuation from a bungalow will also be easier than getting out of any upstairs rooms of a house.
6) Quieter neighbours
Although bungalows are highly suitable for all ages and household sizes, it’s true that bungalows are occupied by a greater number of older people. This in itself can have benefits for you, irrespective of your age.
Older people generally make for quieter neighbours and, in fact, the way older bungalows were built also means that you’re less likely to hear from them anyway. Many are detached, and most of the semi-detached properties are built with relatively thick walls.
7) They hold their value
Fewer bungalows are being built and yet demand remains consistent. This shortage of supply means that your bungalow will probably hold its value or appreciate more than other types of property.
8) Scope to remodel
If the existing space isn’t suitable for your needs, it’s often possible to remodel it. The way we live within our homes has changed in the decades since many bungalows in the UK were built, with open plan living now incredibly popular. The good news is that design and layout modifications are often easier, as there are fewer supporting walls than there would be in a house.
9) Scope to extend
If you simply need more space, then bungalows are often suitable for extending, either upwards or outwards.
A loft conversion is often possible, as bungalows tend to have generous loft areas that are generally underutilised. You don’t even necessarily need to convert the area in to living space – many bungalow owners simply make better use of the loft as additional indoor storage space.
Alternatively, there could be the opportunity to simply add another storey and convert in to a house. Looking at what neighbouring properties have done may offer some guidance as to what may or may not be granted planning permission.
Many bungalows have garages either adjoining or adjacent to the property, and in recent years garage conversions have become an incredibly popular way of gaining more living space for less expense than an extension. Garages were of course originally intended for cars to be kept in but cars aren’t considered as ‘special’ as they once were and are now happily left out in all weathers. As a result, garages are often partly redundant, becoming quasi-sheds, which is quite an inefficient use of space.
Extending outwards is another possibility and, as plots are generally larger, there will often be ample room to do so.
Finally, depending on the particular location of the property, there will occasionally be the possibility to take advantage of the large plot a bungalow is sited upon, knock it down altogether and build a brand new house, if indeed that is something that appeals to you.
10) More even heating
House lovers would argue that heating is more expensive in a bungalow, as heat rises and therefore in a house the heat would warm the upstairs, whereas in a bungalow it would simply heat the loft.
However, good loft insulation within a bungalow can largely mitigate against losing heat to the loft and can actually mean that heat is distributed more evenly throughout the property, rather than simply rising upstairs, as it would in a house.
The disadvantages of buying a bungalow
When it comes to bungalows, the pros undoubtedly outweigh the cons. However, there are some potential disadvantages to one storey living…
1) Demand exceeds supply
There are housing shortages in many areas of the UK, and a particular scarcity of new and older bungalows. This inevitability means that it will be harder to find bungalows and that you could pay a premium for one, due to competition within the market.
2) You’ll get more house for your money
Pound for pound, you’ll likely get more living space with a house than you will a bungalow. In other words, a bungalow is likely to have a higher cost per square foot. This stands to reason as, with a bungalow, you’re effectively paying for a plot of land that’s a similar size to one that a house would sit on, and yet your home will only be one storey.
3) Lack of separation
Living on one level can mean that there’s not as much feeling of separation between living and bedroom areas. This can present issues with noise travelling through the home, which can be problematic if children are trying to sleep, or some family members are up earlier or later than others.
Aside from noise, there’s also arguably less privacy when bathrooms are on the same level as other living areas.
Additionally, clutter is less easy to hide than if it were upstairs, in a house.
4) The need to modernise
If vacated by older residents, the property might not have changed much in decades, and could be in dire need of modernisation, or even renovation. Whilst this might actually appeal to you, this will incur considerable time and expense.
Some people don’t feel comfortable sleeping on the ground floor, with concerns including not being happy to leave bedroom windows open at night.
As you’ve read here, living in a bungalow has a tremendous number of advantages and, whilst they’re extremely popular amongst older homeowners, younger buyers are also realising the many benefits that these properties offer.
There is a scarcity of bungalows, due to a shortage of residential development land in the UK and developers consequently focussing on building more space efficient houses or flats. This scarcity pushes up prices of both new and old bungalows. However, don’t let that dissuade you, as persistence pays off, and a bungalow could be your perfect next home.