Ultimate Guide to Bungalow Renovations
Renovating a bungalow? The potential that lies ahead with this style of property is insanely exciting. There are many ideas for bungalow renovations out there but none really show you a step by step of how to take your new property and manage the renovation of it from start to finish.
In this guide, we’re showing you exactly how to renovate a bungalow, from working out your budgets, to layout and design – and giving you a brief history of your new home which will open the floodgates for renovation ideas.
Let’s get started!
By the way, a big hello if you’re new here! We’re Fi & Neil and we set up this website after flipping one property and renovating another. We found there is such little support out there for renovators, so we’re changing that! We’re giving newbie renovators a leg up to prevent mistakes and achieve wow results! Be sure to check out our property renovation course to connect with other bungalow renovators and access a tried and tested framework to approach your reno.
What I’ll cover in this guide:
Renovating a bungalow – A Brief History
Renovating a bungalow – What to look out for
Renovating a bungalow – Where to start
Budgeting for bungalow renovations
Layouts for your bungalow renovation
Designing your bungalow
Planning your bungalow renovation
Shopping for your bungalow renovation
Getting support with your renovation
Renovating a bungalow – a brief history
This style of house dates back to the 19th century, but a vast amount of UK bungalows were built post WW2 in the 1950s, and again in the 1970s.
The term “bungalow” actually originated in India referring to “bengal style houses” which were typically single-storey, small, detached with wide space around its perimeter.
John Taylor was the first British architect to build bungalows in Kent, UK where a passing journalist commented “they look like bungalow/bengal style houses” and the name stuck. Bungalows back then became associated with bohemianism and were built and bought by aspiring middle class looking for holiday homes. More recently, 1950s and 1970s bungalows were built in direct response to the need for fast, affordable housing post WW2.
Are bungalows a good renovation investment?
Honestly? We couldn’t have phrased it better than Jo, a UK renovator based in the South East who has just bought a bungalow renovation. She told us:
“We are a typical family looking to create a great family space that works for us all. Our type of bungalow renovation is one that is being done more and more (just look at the amount of Insta accounts with bungalows in them!) but still I need the inspiration and design ideas to ensure we get our perfect home. It’s all very daunting and having some guidance would really help and reassure us along the way :-)”
Jo started working through our free Survivor’s Guide to Renovating which has helped her understand how to budget for her project and what the typical order of events will be.
What are my thoughts? Bungalows are pretty homes with fairly spacious plots. A lot of emphasis is on the gardens front and back, normally a garage/drive (or the space to add this) and sometimes the potential to add a second floor (loft space permitting).
Are they a good renovation investment? Well, it depends on your use for the property i.e whether you’re renovating it to flip, to let, or if you’re renovating it as a spacious, long-term family home. If the latter, bungalows are future-proof with so much room to extend and add to the house as your needs change. Normally having no stairs, bungalow renovations are especially perfect for older renovators or anyone planning to live in the property long into retirement if you choose to keep it single storey.
What we will say is, bungalow renovations can be less “straight forward” than your average, say, Edwardian renovation, simply because the rooms and overall layout tend to be squeezed in to a smaller footprint and on one level. Bungalow renovators need to work that bit harder to establish a good sense of “flow” to their property, utilising the external walls and perimeter of the building, as well as skylights and velux windows to bring in natural light but once you get it right, wow are they amazing, spacious family homes.
The ceiling price on bungalows tend to be lower, so care will be needed in establishing top-end of budgets. That said, of all the British house styles, bungalows have significant transformation potential inside and out and they make exciting renovation projects. Many home owners choose to remodel the whole face of the building as well as the interiors, building a work of art!
Renovating a bungalow – what to look out for
No matter what style of house you renovate, all can inevitably expose some potential issues. On top of the usually things to look for when buying a house to renovate, there are some which are specific to renovating a bungalow…
And by the way, it’s worth downloading our free Survivor’s Guide to Renovating email series before getting stuck into these as we advise on how you should budget to prevent your house renovation costs spiralling.
This can be an ongoing issue in some bungalows. With rooms often being small, and many people living in the property at once, condensation/vapour can find it difficult to escape and patches of mould on walls can occur which is fixable. Experts advise to heat the property through winter to tackle this. Read about how we solved our condensation problems for more info. If you’re renovating a bungalow and moving windows/airbricks, be sure to seek expert advice as you don’t want to encourage damp.
Cowboy DIY work
It’s fairly common to have to correct cowboy DIY jobs if you’re renovating a bungalow, where over the years in a bid to improve or split rooms to create more space for families, budget DIY work was the chosen route. You might find stud walls built to split rooms, not leaving any thought to fire escape routes, or the introduction of multiple doors not designed to support load bearing walls. A full structural survey will show you exactly what you’re renovating and the urgent fixes necessary to make the home safe.
A big plus of having your house on a single storey is how easy it is to access the roof. Often chimney stacks can leak and lead flashings need replacing. Check roof tiles and unblock gutters to ensure rainwater is running effectively away from your property. It can be very difficult to inspect roof leaks internally as there can be limited loft space so keep a good eye on on the roof exterior as well as interior to spot leaks/damp issues as they arise.
How to renovate a bungalow – where to start?
We renovated our 1930s house developing a tried and tested approach that has now been shared and helped hundreds of other UK renovators working on all house styles from bungalow renovations to Victorian renovations to Edwardian renovations.
The step-by-step to renovate a house is the same no matter what style of home you’re renovating, and below is a brief overview of the steps.
If at all you feel overwhelmed by the sea of information and uncertainty tackling your bungalow renovation, then we urge you to take a look at our online renovation course and community which has helped hundreds of UK renovators budget well and get stunning results.
Get estimates for your bungalow renovation
The first place to start with your bungalow renovation, is getting clear on your finances. Deep research is needed to establish how much it will be to complete the project within your budget. Call around for quotes, send photographs to trades, and itemise every single cost you know will be associated with updating the building.
Two good rules to always consider at this stage is:
1) Budget any work flagged in your survey first to ensure the property is structurally sound – the most important part of renovating!
2) Set a contingency to cover you for unforeseen issues which inevitably arise (normally +10-20% of the overall project costs).
Our free Survivor’s Guide to Renovating email series is for you if you need help with costing up your project and you’re interested in understanding cost-saving tips we learned along the way.
Next, you’ll need to carefully plan the overall layouts and alterations you want to make to the bungalow
It’s all about making informed decisions on how you want to change or adapt to the layout in your bungalow. Decide on any structural changes, lighting and electrical layouts, as well as how you’ll heat each room. Take time on all of this and really ‘sit on’ / ‘live with’ your ideas and decisions before committing to the investment in them.
One of the most common mistakes first time renovators make is not considering their overall layout (how they’ll use the space, where they’ll position the furniture) alongside their electrics plan. If they aren’t planned together, you risk a mediocre design, or having to undo plaster work – which nobody wants! Understanding the timeline of how a typical renovation works helps to prevent mistakes (we include a timeline on Day 3 of the Survivor’s Guide to Renovating and go into much more depth for the more committed renovators who join our renovation online course).
As mentioned earlier in this guide, you need to work a little harder to establish a good sense of flow in a bungalow as they need to achieve a sense of flow having all rooms on one floor.
Some renovators with a more flexible budget choose to work with an interior designer (projects between £50,000–£100,000) or an architect for the larger remodelling that may be required (£100,000+) but many of the house renovators we work with choose to plan layouts themselves first, with our support. You need to constantly think about what is required for a comfortable house that maximises space, light, warmth, so nothing is missed (something our exercises go into great detail on).
The exciting part – designing your bungalow. The colour schemes and overall interior style.
Bungalows are one of the most exciting house styles to design simply because there are no hard and fast rules you need to follow – such as reinstating period features, or having to work with tricky window styles such as angled bay windows.
When you’re considering the design for your bungalow, you’ll want to drill into what speaks to your personal style or the style of the people you intend to let/sell to and remain sympathetic to your house and its location. Opt for colours, materials, furniture and features that collectively create the look you want.
Many bungalow renovations go for modern design to lift the rooms from 50s or 70s back into the modern era but there’s no reason you can’t go for a country or eclectic look. It’s common to see renovators installing bifold doors, skylights and developing the front of their properties to increase natural light and improve kerb appeal.
Appoint the right contractors, architect and schedule the work
The next stage is to obtain estimates to compare contractors and appoint the right people for your build. Crucially, it’s at this stage you need to recognise whether the people you’re hiring have the skills required for the level of work you need them to do – and that you work together well.
Often, it’s about trying them out on small jobs first, getting reviews from their previous clients, and having good communication skills.
If you’re choosing to do a full remodel of your bungalow, to knock down and replan the internal walls and redo the face of the property then seriously consider an architect to help you make the most of the property and your budget, many will be able to recommend building firms to you.
We have a Planning module dedicated to managing timelines, appointing the right tradesmen and how to make your best judgement in our How to Renovate a House Online Course and we’ve found that our community – the Reno Club, a group of tight knit renovators helping renovators – are always there to lend advice. It’s been such a safe space to ask for help.
With the layout and design all planned, next you’ll need to research suppliers and arrange delivery for the items you need
This stage of a renovation is by far the most underestimated. Anyone who has previously renovated or decorated a property will tell you, it takes a long time to research and source the right items for your property.
From internal doors, to flooring and tiles, getting the right look at the right price is hard. It can pay to hire an interior designer who knows the industry and can access trade discounts for you. Alternatively, engaging with other bungalow renovators on instagram accounts, our community (the Reno Club) and blogs can help to give you supplier ideas. As an interior designer, Fi’s advice is to try not to copy other homes and work out what look really makes you and your family happy – that’s how you’ll end up with a unique, personal home. Obtaining the best items from rated suppliers is an area we’re working with our students on, and have exclusive discounts to top suppliers they can access, so if you’re interested in this, consider signing up. Otherwise you could check out our Shop our renovation and Treasure Trove pages to see a bunch of items we recommended.
Finally, work commences and you’re able to start watching your vision become a reality
While it is an exciting time watching the work start to take place, the secret to its success is all in the planning (the steps above). Managing the dust, the decision making, the fear of things going wrong, the finances, is all made easier if you’ve meticulously planned every last job and item you need.
4 in 10 renovators can go over budget on their renovation, normally down to lack of planning. So we encourage you, get the help you need to renovate your bungalow and there is no doubt it will save you time, money and give you an excellent overall finish.
3 tips to make the most of your bungalow renovation
Tip 1 - Consider renovating the loft space
Most UK bungalows have large pitched loft spaces which can make for a fantastic roof dormer of loft conversion. This work can make for a perfect addition to make the most of your renovation.
Tip 2 - Create an open plan layout
Bungalows have the benefit from an ease on fire safety requirements due to the ease of escape on a ground floor. This can make knocking through walls and opening up rooms much easier.
This can provide more light and value to your renovation by creating modern open plan layouts for rooms such as the kitchen, living and dining spaces.
Tip 3 - Expose a vaulted ceiling
If a loft conversion doesn’t take your fancy, why not create a high ceiling? By opening the ceiling up to the pitch of the roof, your bungalow renovation can bring a grand, spacious feel to your home.
Get access to our free email series for first-time renovators and give your bungalow renovation the best head start 👇👇👇
Avoid pitfalls and compromises
Reduce renovation stress
We’d like to support you!
We’re passionate about helping first time renovators tackle their projects in the correct steps to renovate a house and in an organised way so that ultimately you make the most of your home, your budget and enhance your life when your renovation is finished.
How we can help you:
Get access to our free email series A Survivor’s Guide to Renovating
Enrol on our How to Renovate a House Online Course
Or if you’d like more 1-on-1 interior design support get in touch
Fifi & Neil
House Renovation Guides
We also have a range of guides to help you get to grips with your renovation: