A bungalow is a type of building, with varying meanings across the world. Common features to many bungalows include being, low-rise and the use of verandas. In Australia, the California bungalow was popular after the First World War. In Britain and North America a bungalow today is a residential building, normally detached, which is either single storey, or has a second storey built into a sloping roof, usually with dormer windows ("one and a half stories"). Full vertical walls are therefore only seen on one storey, at least on the front and rear elevations. Usually the buildings are relatively small, especially from recent decades, though early examples may be large, in which case the term bungalow tends not to be used today.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Design considerations
- 3 Usage of the term 'bungalow' across the world
- 4 Types of bungalow
- 5 References
The term originated in India, deriving from the Gujarati બંગલો baṅgalo, which in turn derives from Hindi बंगला baṅglā, meaning "Bengali" and used elliptically for a "house in the Bengal style". Such houses were traditionally small, only one storey and detached, and had a wide veranda. The term was first found in English from 1696, where it was used to describe "bungales or hovells" in India for English sailors of the East India Company, which do not sound like very grand lodgings. Later it became used for the spacious homes or official lodgings of officials of the British Raj, and was so known in Britain and later America, where it initially had high status and exotic connotations, and began to be used in the late 19th century for large country or suburban houses built in an Arts and Crafts or other Western vernacular style—essentially as large cottages, a term also sometimes used. Later developers began to use the term for smaller houses.
Bungalows are very convenient for the homeowner in that all living areas are on a single story and there are no stairs between living areas. A bungalow is well suited to persons with impaired mobility, such as the elderly or those in wheelchairs.
Neighborhoods of only bungalows offer more privacy than similar neighborhoods with two-story houses. With bungalows, strategically planted trees and shrubs are usually sufficient to block the view of neighbors. With two-storey houses, the extra height requires much taller trees to accomplish the same, and it may not be practical to place such tall trees close to the house to obscure the view from the second floor of the next door neighbor. They are a very cost-effective way of living. On the other hand, even closely spaced bungalows make for quite low density neighborhoods, contributing to urban sprawl. In Australia, bungalows have broad verandas and as a result are often excessively dark inside, requiring artificial light even in daytime.
Cost and space considerations
On a per unit area basis (e.g. per square foot or per square meter), bungalows are more expensive to construct than two story houses because a larger foundation and roof area is required for the same living area. The larger foundation will often translate into larger lot size requirements as well. This is why bungalows are typically fully detached from other houses and do not share a common foundation or party wall: if the homeowner can afford the extra expense of a bungalow relative to a two-story house, they can typically afford to be fully detached as well.
The smaller size however may be desirable for elderly people (perhaps with grown children) as it requires less cleaning, etc.
Though the 'footprint' of a bungalow is often a simple rectangle, any foundation is possible. For bungalows with brick walls, the windows are often positioned high and are right to the roof. This avoids the need for special arches or lintels to support the brick wall above the windows. In two-story houses, there is no choice but to continue the brick wall above the window (and the second story windows may be positioned high and right to the roof.)
Usage of the term 'bungalow' across the world
The bungalow style often referred to as California Bungalow was very popular in Australasia from about 1910 to 1930. The style seems to have first been imported in Sydney and then spread throughout the Australian states and New Zealand. In South Australia, Colonel Light Gardens is a well preserved bungalow development.
In the rural areas of Bangladesh where the name Bungalow originated, it is often called “Bangla Ghar” (Bengali Style House). The Bungalow style houses are still very popular in the rural Bengal. The main construction material used in modern time is corrugated steel sheets. Previously they had been constructed from wood, bamboo and a kind of straw called “Khar”. Khar was used in the roof of the Bungalow house and kept the house cold during hot summer days. Another roofing material for Bungalow houses has been red clay tiles.
Canada uses the American definition of bungalow to mean a single-family dwelling, though it is sometimes also used in the South African sense, to apply to a vacationer's cottage.
Bungalows were popular in the Toronto area from the 1950s to 1970 period. Early bungalows were single-level brick structures. with latter style using siding or a combination. The later structures often came with an open canopy garage attached to the side. Bungalows are found in suburban areas in and around the Greater Toronto Area.
Old Toronto has very few bungalows and Etobicoke is mixed, since some areas are becoming the richest in the city, and some are becoming the poorest, leading to city blocks that can go from upper-middle-class to poverty.
Bungalows were also popular in Calgary and Edmonton from the late 1940s through the 1960s. Albertan bungalows are single-level wooden structures, typically less than 1,000 square feet (93 m2), and normally feature a detached garage facing onto a back alley, a single bathroom, two or three bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen, and a small living room. In Calgary, most are located in the neighborhoods immediately surrounding the inner city, such as Marda Loop, Radisson Heights, Crescent Heights, and Killarney. As property values have skyrocketed, developers have been purchasing the old bungalows and replacing them with luxury duplexes, each side of which may sell for upwards of $750,000 each.
In British Columbia, a single-story bungalow is more commonly called a "rancher".
Bungalows are advertised in various locations as an alternative to motels or hotels for holidaymakers. As in South Africa, the term can mean a small wooden frame house, or one of log construction.
Bungalows became popular in the United Kingdom between the two World Wars, and very large numbers were built, particularly in coastal resorts, giving rise to the pejorative adjective, "bungaloid", first found in the Daily Express from 1927: "Hideous allotments and bungaloid growth make the approaches to any city repulsive". Many villages and seaside resorts have large estates of 1960s bungalows, usually occupied by retired people. The typical 1930s bungalow is square in plan, with 1960s ones more likely to be oblong. It is rare for just "bungalow" to be used in British English to denote a house having other than a single story, in which case "chalet bungalow" (see below) is used.
India and Pakistan
In India and Pakistan, the term bungalow refers to any single-family unit (i.e., a house), as opposed to an apartment building, which is the norm for Indian and Pakistani middle-class city living. The normal custom for an Indian bungalow is one story, but as time progressed many resorted to larger two-story homes with families and pets. The area with bungalows built in 1920s -1930s in New Delhi, is now known as Lutyens' Bungalow Zone and is an architectural heritage area. The Indian subcontinent usage is different from the North American usage in that it can be applied to large, multi-story buildings which house a single extended family. In India and Pakistan, owning a bungalow is a highly significant status symbol.
The bungalow is the most common house built in the Irish countryside. During the Celtic Tiger years though, there has been a decline in the number of bungalows for the more favored 2-story or dormer bungalows. Bungalows became popular as there was a trend in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland of people moving into rural areas and buying their own plots of land. Often these plots were large, so a one story building was more practical, particularly for retired people.
Singapore and Malaysia
In Singapore and Malaysia, the term bungalow refers to a house which was built during the colonial era. The structures were constructed “from the early 19th century until the end of World War II.”  They were built by the British to house their “military officers, High Court judges and other members of the colonial society’s great and good.” 
At present, there is still a high demand for bungalows in Singapore and Malaysia. Most of the units are largely used as residences. Over the years, some have been transformed into offices, hotels, galleries, spas and restaurants.
Types of bungalow
American Craftsman bungalow
The American Craftsman bungalow typified the common styles of the American Arts and Crafts movement, with common features usually including: low-pitch roof lines on a gabled or hipped roof; deeply overhanging eaves; exposed rafters or decorative brackets under the eaves; and a front porch beneath an extension of the main roof. Two of the manufacturing companies that produced kits and sold them from catalogs for construction on sites during the turn of the 19th century were the Sears Company and The Aladdin Company.
The California Bungalow was a widely popular 1½ story variation on the bungalow in America from 1910 to 1925. It was also widely popular in Australia within the period 1910–1940.
The majority of Chicago bungalows were built between 1910 and 1940. They were typically constructed of brick (some including decorative accents), with one and one-half stories and a full basement. At one point, nearly a third of the houses in the Chicago area were bungalows. One primary difference between the Chicago bungalow and other types is that the gables are parallel to the street, rather than perpendicular. Like many other local homes, Chicago bungalows are relatively narrow, being an average of 20 feet (6.1 m) wide on a standard 24-foot (7.3 m) or 25-foot (7.6 m) wide city lot. Their veranda (porch) may either be open or partially enclosed (if enclosed, it may further be used to extend the interior rooms).
A large fraction of the older houses in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are bungalows in a similar Arts and Crafts style to those of Chicago, but usually with the gable perpendicular to the street. Also, many Milwaukee bungalows have white stucco on the lower portion of the exterior.
There are numerous examples of Arts and Crafts bungalows built from 1910 to 1925 in the metro-Detroit area, including Royal Oak, Hazel Park, Highand Park and Ferndale. Keeping in line with the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement, the bungalows were constructed using local building materials.
A special use of the term "bungalow" developed in the greater New York City area, between the 1930s and 1970s to denote a cluster of small rental summer homes, usually in the Catskill Mountains in the area known as the Borscht Belt. First and second generation Jewish-American families were especially likely to rent such homes.
The old bungalow colonies continue to exist in the Catskills, mainly occupied today by Hassidic Jews.
A ranch bungalow is a bungalow organized so that bedrooms are on one side and "public" areas (kitchen, living/dining/family rooms) are on the other side. If there is an attached garage, the garage is on the public side of the house so that a direct entrance to the house is possible, when this is allowed by legislation. On narrower lots, public areas are at the front of the house and such an organization is typically not called a "ranch" bungalow. Such houses are often smaller and have only two bedrooms in the back.
A raised bungalow is one in which the basement is partially above ground. The benefit is that more light can enter the basement with above ground windows in the basement. A raised bungalow typically has a foyer at ground level that is half-way between the first floor and the basement. This further has the advantage of creating a foyer with a very high ceiling without the expense of raising the roof or creating a skylight. Raised bungalows often have the garage in the basement. Because the basement is not that deep, and the ground must slope downwards away from the house, the slope of the driveway is quite shallow. This avoids the disadvantage of steep driveways found in most other basement garages. Bungalows without basements can still be raised, but the advantages of raising the bungalow are much less.
A bungalow with loft comes with a second story loft. The loft may be extra space over the garage. It is often space to the side of a great room with a vaulted ceiling area. The house is still classified and marketed as a bungalow with loft because the main living areas of the house are on one floor. All the convenience of single floor living still applies and the loft is not expected to be accessed on a daily basis.
Some houses have extra bedrooms in the loft or attic area. Such houses are really "one and half" stories and not a bungalow, and are described in British English as a chalet bungalow or dormer bungalow. "Chalet Bungalow" is also used in British English for where the area enclosed within pitched roof contains rooms, even if this comprises a large part of the living area and is fully integrated into the fabric of the property.
True bungalows do not use the attic. Because the attic is not used, the roof pitch can be quite shallow, constrained only by snow load considerations.
There is a deliberate use of natural materials like wooden shingles and clapboards, cobblestones and rough-faced brick for exterior walls, porch columns and chimneys.
- Oxford English Dictionary, "bungalow"; Online Etymology Dictionary
- Oxford English Dictionary, unless "hovells" meant haveli rather than the English word "hovel"
- First cited use of a building in Britain by the OED in 1903.
- Calgary News & Entertainment Weekly
- Example of bungalow rentals in Alberta
- OED, "bungaloid"
- Davison, Julian (2006). Black and White: The Singapore House 1898–1941. Talisman Publishing Pte Ltd. ISBN 981052739X.
- "Black and whites draw many expats, The Straits Times, Friday, October 14, 2011". p. B22.
- "Table Talk: Singapore’s This Old House, The New York Times, Sunday, September 23, 2007". p. 618.
- The Chicago Bungalow, Field Guide to Chicago Area Buildings