Posted on 24th October 2014

The Rise of the Bungalow

Martin Williamson, Head of Residential Property
Latimer Hinks Solicitors

The humble bungalow has sadly all too often received bad press over the years, but it could soon be undergoing something of a renaissance. The planning and housing minister Brendon Lewis is a self-confessed fan of the one-storey home. He recently argued that: "we should be looking to love bungalows a little bit more.
New research also reveals that younger people are starting to take to the bungalow, and they are also still a firm favourite with older people and those with mobility problems. The Bungalow even remains the third most popular name for our homes, after The Cottage and Rose Cottage.
However, a study by Alliance and Leicester has revealed that just two per cent of our national housing stock is taken up by bungalows even though 30 per cent of the nation are longing to live in one. Surprisingly, 47 per cent of 16- to 19-year-olds liked the idea of not having to use the stairs.
In 2009, the latest year for which figures are available, only 300 new bungalows were built. Brendon Lewis says that developers should look at building more as he sees bungalows as an important part of the solution to our housing shortfall.
He cited the case of his own in-laws. They are now in their 70s "pretty fit, mentally with-it, struggling to live in a normal house, but not yet ready to move into what they would regard as a retirement home. The trouble was that there were no bungalows available in their area, just "tons and tons of apartments.
The quandary facing Mr Lewiss in-laws will be familiar to anyone of retirement age for whom stairs are difficult to negotiate. There is a growing call for new homes, but space is limited and at a premium. The result is that very few new bungalows are being built, as they are seen as not as good an investment as apartment blocks and retirement villages. Could it be a case of pack them high, sell them more cheaply? It certainly could be argued so.
The ironic thing is that these one-storey homes often represent the ideal accommodation. They can be perfect for the elderly, the green-fingered, couples starting out, first time buyers and also for families - as they often have an outside play area. Our taste for the bungalow began in the 17th century, when British expats in India, working for the East India Company, fell for the local one-storey thatched houses, built in the Bengali style thus the name bungalow, derived from the Hindi word bangla, meaning Bengali.
In the US and Australia and other countries with lots of wide-open space, bungalows have long been popular, even fashionable. They are considered desirable because they can be very spacious whilst also offering land attached. Will the British ever get a chance to reignite their love for the humble bungalow?
Please note: This article is intended as guidance only and does not constitute advice, financial or otherwise. No responsibility for loss occasioned/costs arising as a result of any act/failure to act on the basis of this article can be accepted by Latimer Hinks.