5 Ways to Remodel a Bungalow

Large plots, low roofs (for easy maintenance), and easy accessibility make bungalows popular among house hunters. Despite a somewhat undeserved reputation for being dated or boring, an ever-growing number of homeowners are seeing the potential in these single-storey dwellings. 

As bungalows tend to make less efficient use of their footprint than two-storey homes, modern developers rarely build them and the majority of bungalows date back to the mid 1900s. In turn, this means supply often does not meet demand, but there are still bargains to be had if you are willing to undertake a renovation project.

We look at the many ways to remodel a bungalow to make best possible use of space, using case study examples from Real Homes magazine.

Convert the loft

As long as you have 2.3m of head height at your loft’s highest point, you should be able to convert it into habitable space. This can often be done under your permitted development rights (unless it is a listed building or in a conservation area), which means you do not require planning permission. Check the rules on loft conversions and planning here.

Dormers can be created to add useable floor space, but rooflights are the easiest and cheapest way to bring light into the loft. You should expect to pay around £20,000 for a basic rooflight conversion with two bedrooms and one bath, but a mansard or dormer will cost £40,000–45,000.

dormer bungalow with loft conversion and balconies

Glazed gables and balconies make this dormer bungalow anything but dull

Extend outwards

Bungalows often have large gardens allowing room to extend to the side or rear. Smaller single-storey, rear extensions can usually be done under permitted development if they are less than 8m deep (on a detached house), but again check the rules before undertaking the work. 

Two-storey extensions are more likely to require planning permission as they will exceed the roof height of the original building. However, remember that if you build over two storeys you can reduce the cost per square metre, as the roof and foundations cover more useable space.

bungalow with two storey front extension and solar panels

The large front garden had enough room for a two-storey extension, the roofline of which is mimicked in the form of the entrance hall

Take the inside, outside (and vice versa)

To make your home feel more spacious, create links between the garden and interiors — as they do so effectively in many Australian and Californian bungalows. The obvious way to do this is by using bi-fold or French doors for easy access, but you could also try matching the materials you use inside and outside.

Flooring is one way to do this – continue the type or colour of flooring you use in living areas to the terrace beyond – but opt for materials that are slip resistant and weatherproof. You might also want to mimic the interior scheme in your garden furniture and accessories for a fully integrated look.

bungalow remodel with outside inside space

Bi-fold doors open fully to remove the barrier between the house and garden in this project

Build a balcony or terrace

A balcony or roof terrace adds interest to your design and can be a good way to take advantage of a view that cannot be seen from the lower floor. However, these rarely fall under permitted development, so even if your loft conversion doesn’t require planning permission, you will need to check if you are intending to add a balcony too.

Also note that there may be issues with including a balcony if your property overlooks others.

roof terrace on a bungalow remodel

Rather than build a full second storey on their bungalow, the owners of this home chose to reserve a section of the roof to create a terrace with views of the sea

Go open plan

Bungalows often have unusual layouts and garden access may be through a bedroom. When converting the bungalow into a family home it may therefore be necessary to rethink the layout and, where possible, swap separate receptions rooms for an open-plan layout. This can also help do away with the dark, windowless corridors that bungalows often have for circulation space.

Find out more about creating an open-plan layout here.

bungalow remodel with open plan kitchen lounge

As well as extending to the rear and turning their bungalow into a two-storey property, these homeowners decided to turn the maze of reception rooms into a light and spacious open-plan living arrangement

For more expert advice on remodelling a bungalow, and to see inspiring projects, visit Real Homes