Is the bungalow ready to make a return to the UK property market?

16NOV

Is the bungalow ready to make a return to the UK property market?

Thu 16 Nov 2017 by Frances Traynor

Bungalows were once one of the most popular house types in Britain. But the one-storey home has declined dramatically in popularity in the last four decades as builders move to maximise the land they have by building up, not out.

However, could bungalows be in line to make a return to the property market? Former Cabinet Minister Nicky Morgan has called for builders to be given financial incentives to start building more ground-level and one-storey homes that are suitable for the elderly and those with mobility issues.

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Freeing up larger homes for families

An acute shortage of that type of property means many older people are stuck living in larger houses that are no longer suitable for their physical requirements. A survey by the HomeOwners' Alliance suggested that half a million people over the age of 55 cannot move because they cannot find or afford more suitable accommodation.

Speaking to the Resolution Foundation think-tank, Miss Morgan suggested building more bungalows would allow older home owners to move, freeing up their properties for families desperate to move to bigger homes.

She said: "We have got to go back to building housing stock that people are going to move into in later life. In the Midlands, there is a desperate shortage of bungalows and suitable accommodation for older people."

A feature of seaside Britain

Bungalows were first built in the UK in the mid-18th century, the style of home having been imported from India and derived from the word "bangla", meaning of or belong to Bengal.

Their construction heyday in the UK was the 1920s and 1930s when thousands were built at affordable prices. Bungalows became a feature of not only seaside Britain but also particularly popular in Scotland's towns and cities.

In post-war Britain, another 150,000 prefab bungalows were erected to house those left homeless by wartime bombing campaigns.

However, builders wanting more land bang for their buck have turned away from building bungalows, preferring to villas, detached or semi-detached, and terraced townhouses that provide a greater return. In 1996, 7 percent of new homes were bungalows. By 2014, that figure had dropped to 1 percent, according to the National House Building Council.

That means the surviving bungalows are in high demand from buyers.

Attracting the ‘younger-older’ market

McCarthy & Stone, the specialists in retirement living, are among the builders investigating the possibility of bringing back bungalows.

Its director of land and planning, Gary Day, said the company was trying to diversify the type of properties it creates because the average age of a buyer of its homes has risen from 70 to 79 in the last three decades. To make their homes appealing to what he calls the "younger older" market, different types of developments are required.

He said: "Most of our new bungalows are going to be part of larger schemes including different kinds of property… These are designed to meet the aspirations of this group of people."

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