Bungalow Style Homes Explained: What They Are and Costs

First Time Home Buyers, Industry Insights, Real Estate


If you’re shopping for a home, you might want something trendy with lots of character and personality. While tiny houses are all the rage because of their minimalistic offerings, the bungalow house has captured lovers of open spaces. 

The history of bungalow style homes is fascinating. If you want a home with character and style, you’ll love what cottage life can bring into your home life.

For so many reasons, a bungalow style house is a popular option for homebuyers who want a place for pets and visitors, and an intriguing use of wall space.

You have many factors to consider when choosing a bungalow, and this article will cover the benefits and considerations, including costs, style and history.

What Is a Bungalow Style House? 

What is a bungalow style home? Bungalows are quaint. Cabin-like, their airy nature is paired with beautiful architectural designs like tall ceilings, in-wall cabinetry, large and expansive windows.  Luxurious wraparound porches are perfect for hot summer evenings and are sophisticated and minimalistic, simultaneously. 

Bungalows are often confused with cabins or cottages because of their size and ranch-like layout, but you can differentiate a bungalow by its sloped roof, protruding dormer windows that let in natural light and a veranda or front-facing porch.

What Is the History of the Bungalow?

The history of the bungalow house design runs deep. Bungalows can be found throughout the world and rose in popularity in the United States during the early 20th century.

The name “bungalow” was derived from the Indian word “bengalia,” which means “from Bengali,” during the time in which India was a colony of Britain. The homes with their sloped roofs and covered verandas were built by the British in India as a temporary housing solution that could withstand the climatic and geographical changes. 

The sloped roof allowed water to flow off without flooding the home’s interior. The way the top extended around the structure provided a shaded area for activities. The open porch and expansive windows allowed air to circulate, helping to provide relief from humidity, heat and rain. The raised bungalow was perfect for hot, rainy climates. 

The design of the roof and the usefulness of a large, covered porch inspired architecture in Hindu and Muslim countries and later in Great Britain. The movement then came to the United States during the Arts and Crafts movement started by Charles and Henry Greene during the 20th century.

What Are Common Bungalow House Characteristics? 

If you have not seen a bungalow style home before, chances are you’ll become enchanted by its layout when you do encounter one. Bungalow characteristics appeal to all types of home buyers, so they remain one of the most sought-after home styles.

Here’s what you’ll find in a bungalow style house:

  • Open floor plans with few hallways
  • Broad, covered porches 
  • Plenty of windows
  • Pitched, gabled roof
  • A short flight of steps leading to the front and back doors
  • Sloped roof
  • Single-story floor plan (sometimes an attic will be converted into a bedroom)
  • Sophisticated use of small spaces such as in-wall drawers, cabinetry and nooks
  • Elevated first floor
  • Covered porch with columns
  • Dormer windows
  • Bathrooms and bedrooms connected to a central living room
Do People Still Build Bungalows?

Bungalows were designed to be inexpensive and easy to build. The style is a popular choice for prefabricated homes, which are more affordable and take less than 6 months to build.

What Are the Types of Bungalows?

There are several types of bungalow houses, each with features that home buyers appreciate and love. Of course, the American Craftsman is the most popular, but each style has varying architectural features that make it unique. 

Most bungalows are single story, but some designs, like the chalet bungalow, convert the attic into a second-story loft.

Here are some of the more popular bungalow style homes and descriptions of their features and architectural styles below.

American bungalow

The American bungalow, also known as the Craftsman, is one of the most popular styles. The wall-to-ceiling windows illuminate interiors that make excellent use of space with nooks and built-in-into-the-wall cabinetry. 

The curbside appeal comes from the Craftsman bungalow’s low-hanging roof with a wrap-around porch and large windows complementing natural landscapes. Predominately found in the Midwest and California, this housing style with tapered columns and short steps leading to the veranda creates an inviting atmosphere for gatherings on hot summer evenings.

California bungalow 

The California bungalow provides ample living area and interior space for growing families and is beloved by home buyers drawn to the American bungalow design. The California bungalow grew popular from 1910 – 1939 and can be found throughout the United States.

The signature of this small to medium-sized home is its use of local materials and transitional plantings. The Gamble House, a famous Craftsman style bungalow listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Pasadena, California, is an example of this housing style.

Chicago bungalow

Sharp and practical, a Chicago bungalow is a one and a half story home, typically with a brick exterior and a small flight of stairs leading to a large front porch with tapered columns and expansive windows.

This bungalow style is rectangular and includes a full basement. It was an adaptation of the California bungalow to accommodate Chicago’s colder climate and dynamic cultural energy.

Mission bungalow 

The Mission bungalow is the Craftsman style home of the west. Its Spanish colonial style architecture is similar to the Craftsman homes of the Arts and Crafts movement. 

Key characteristics and distinctive traits make this bungalow home unique. Let’s take a look. 

  • ​​Gable, red tile roof: Instead of shingles, mission bungalow style homes use barrel-shaped clay shingles. Clay withstands high temperatures and the peaked roof prevents standing rainwater from causing damage during the rainy season.
  • Exterior stucco walls: This moisture-resistant material is durable and cost-effective.
  • Arched entryway: A common trait of Spanish colonial homes that makes a space feel large, spacious and inviting.
  • Wood beams with metal designs: Beams are often square and connected by black or wrought-iron metal. 

Tudor bungalow 

If you are looking for a unique home design that is complex and sophisticated, the Tudor bungalow style home is one to view. Named after the House of Tudor built during the reign of Henry VIII, the Tudor style uniquely displays stone, wood and brick in a decorative band around the home, casement windows and a steeply pitched roof. 

The Tudor bungalow design appeared during the mid-19th century. This style became wildly popular during World War II but was hard to build and expensive to maintain. 

The Tudor house maintains creative use of space. But its masonry chimney and decorative half-timbering filled with stucco make Tudor house plans unique. 

Also known as the “Stockbroker Tudor,” the style did not become as popular as the Craftsman or California bungalow styles because of the expense, maintenance and architectural design.

Prairie bungalow 

The Prairie bungalow style home is associated with the Prairie School in Chicago, Illinois, and was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright and a group of prominent architects.

The Prairie bungalow is a two-story mid-century modern bungalow home that harmonizes with nature and uses natural building materials.

The floor plan emphasizes a horizontal design signature of the flat landscape of the Midwest. Intrinsic to this design is a flat, shallow-hipped roof and an abundance of tall windows with a horizontal band of brick, stones or wood around the exterior frame.

What Are the Benefits of Owning a Bungalow Style Home? 

Of course, a home with beautiful design, deep history and intricate features are among the many reasons why owning a bungalow style home is a great idea. But, there are many other reasons why this house style is hunted by home buyers who wonder if a bungalow is the best type of house.

Here are some advantages of owning a bungalow style home:

  • Easy maintenance: The lower roofs and one-story design make it easier for homeowners to keep gutters tidy.
  • Accessibility (hint: minimal stairs): A short flight of stairs is characteristic of the entryway of a bungalow home. This feature can make accessibility less of a challenge for children or people with disabilities.
  • Open concept design: A glut of windows and an open concept design allow families to remain connected and encourage gatherings and socializing with one another.
  • Kid and family friendly: Bungalow homes are designed with nature in mind, so the appreciation of natural beauty is encouraged and the ambiance can be peaceful and calming.
  • High appreciation value: Because bungalows are popular and in high demand, their investment value is less likely to depreciate.
  • Lots of natural light: The tall windows and open veranda encourage natural light, which can be an energy-saving feature.
  • Single story floor plan: A single-story floor plan makes it easier to manage day-to-day activities.
  • Charming design features: The inherent charm of bungalow homes remains timeless, warm and inviting.
  • Efficient use of wall and floor space: Built-in cabinetry, nooks and seating areas make the most of smaller spaces.

What Are the Disadvantages of Owning a Bungalow Style Home? 

Depending on the age, condition, and updates needed on an older bungalow, home repair and renovation costs can add up quickly[1]

A few other disadvantages to owning a bungalow home include: 

  • Less space: Bungalow styles tend to be smaller and lower in square footage so that new families could outgrow the space quickly.
  • Security concerns: The breadth of exterior windows that extend from floor to ceiling can make potential theft easier and thereby pose a safety threat. As a result, some homeowners opt to strategically place large shrubs to block these potential entryways and enhance safety.
  • Often dated interiors: The built-in wall features and signature open floor plan style can render the floor plan challenging to modify, so some interiors may become outdated compared to modern homes.
  • More expensive per square foot: Bungalow architecture features small house plans, including savvy usage of small spaces. The living space is what makes the style more expensive per square foot due to its charm, characteristics and ornate features.
  • High demand: Because bungalow style homes are in high demand, supply tends to be low, making them harder to find if you want to buy one. For example, if you wanted to purchase a bungalow house in New York you may have to wait longer for one to come on the market than if you are searching in California or Chicago.
  • Bigger footprint on lot space: You will have less yard when your house is a single-story home designed with horizontal lines and features.

What Else Should You Consider Before Buying a Bungalow?

When you buy an older bungalow, chances are you’ll need to make improvements to modernize and improve your home’s energy efficiency. This can be costly, so you will want to know how this expense factors into your overall home improvement budget. 

Bungalows can be expensive, but … 

Most bungalow houses are one-story homes that tend to be in high demand and more costly. Because of low supply and high demand, you could be waiting a while for one to list on the market. This can also mean higher mortgage interest rates or increased property values with time. 

The good news is that you have alternatives to owning a bungalow home. First, you can design a custom-built home using Craftsman house plans. A bungalow house plan will allow you to choose the specifications, special features and materials that fit your lifestyle, needs and budget. 

Opting to build your own home using bungalow house plans can allow you to carefully consider your overall financial situation, cut costs where needed and have more design control.

Another option is to purchase a home with similar features, such as a Cape Cod, which is widely available throughout the United States.

They often have a high resale value 

Bungalows appeal to all types of home buyers. Buying a bungalow can mean a higher resale value when you’re ready to list your home for resale. 

Their design and unique features keep this house style hot on the real estate market. Low supply and high demand mean you’ll pay top dollar for a bungalow home. However, if you don’t intend to live in the house for very long, the appreciation value of the home may not have time to grow.

Bungalows may need renovations 

Another thing to keep in mind when purchasing a bungalow is the age of the home at the time of purchase. If it’s an older home, it may mean your home is at a disadvantage due to a dated interior. 

There may not be any prior renovations on the property, so you will want to consider whether or not your budget allows for any potential renovations or modern upgrades. If the cost of fixing a bungalow house is substantial, this can reduce your potential gains in the future.

The (Bunga) Lowdown

Bungalow houses are definitely in demand, and people don’t seem to be losing interest any time soon. However, if this architectural style appeals to you, remember to consider your overall budget and financial situation. While the resale value of a bungalow remains strong, renovation costs may be a deal breaker.



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