Humble bungalow is happiest house

BUNGALOWS are Britain’s happiest homes according to new research that questioned households on issues ranging from security to décor.

The modest single-storey homes "breed more contentment" than any other type of dwelling from traditional village houses, loft apartments and even the Victorian terrace, according to a survey of 2,000 people by Halifax.

Despite making up only 2 per cent of the housing stock and being viewed by some as stunted, unambitious and architecturally uninteresting, the bungalow is by far the most sought-after property type in the UK, the report said, and is very popular with first-time buyers.

Using a combination of techniques to arrive at their conclusions, including focus groups and surveys, researchers found that more space does not necessarily equate to a happier home.

David Rochester, a research analyst with Halifax, said 12 factors determined the happiness of homes: crime rate, amount of space, sense of community, privacy, garden, amount of light, number of bathrooms, number of occupants, noise, number of bedrooms, neighbours and decorative state of repair.

Mr Rochester said: "Surprisingly bungalows seem to score very well on the factors that make a happy home. A bungalow has privacy, it has a garden, an appropriate amount of floor space but not too much space. There is a balance between a house being too small and too large. People are also attracted to the sense of community that living in a row of bungalows brings."

For many the suburban bungalow conjures up an image of a cheap, easily built form of accommodation that in the 20th century quickly became a widespread and controversial phenomenon.

But latest figures from Bank of Scotland show that bungalows have recorded the highest price growth in Scotland over the past ten years, with values increasing by 119 per cent during that period.

Research from Halifax shows that in Scotland 7 per cent of new homes built were bungalows compared with a UK average of 3 per cent.

Simon Bradley of the Social Issues Research Centre, who compiled the report for Halifax General Insurance, said: "The happiness of a home is influenced by a complex interaction of physical factors, proximity to amenities, and personal and emotional considerations.

"Arguably the most surprising finding to those of us who live in flats or homes with more than one storey is that the happiest homes are bungalows."

Robert Morris, professor of economic and social history at Edinburgh University and author of Men, Women and Property in 19th Century Britain, said bungalows’ appeal traditionally lay in the fact that they were easier to manage domestically.

Prof Morris said: "In Scotland in the early 1920s when people started building again after the First World War, they stopped building tenements and flatted villas and started building bungalows.

"This was a period where middle-class women were expected to do more and more of their domestic work, as servants were becoming more expensive and harder to come by and a bungalow was seen as easier to manage."

The history of the bungalow goes back much further than the 1920s. The term occurs in 1659 as an Anglicisation of the Hindi word Bangala, meaning "of or belonging to Bengal". The first bungalow in Britain was built by a Colonel Bragg, who, returning from India, built a lodge with Indian features In Norwood, London, in the 1860s and called it "The Bungalow".

Andrew Lonie-Renfrew, sales manager with Scotia developments in Aberdeen, said that his company was building a number of bungalows across Scotland, particularly to meet demand from younger buyers.

He said: "Part of their attraction is that bungalow owners get larger gardens."


NICOLA Mackay, 34, moved with her husband Neil, 29, and sons Robbie and Andrew to a three-bedroom bungalow in Edinburgh eight months ago.

The Mackays are an example of a growing number of young families who have gone for the bungalow option, helping to fuel a revival in Scotland of the one-storey houses.

Mrs Mackay says they chose a bungalow because it provided more space, had a larger garden and was easier to manage with a young family.

She said: "We moved from a traditional three-bedroom Victorian upper-villa which was fine when we were a young couple without children, but it became increasingly difficult when we had children and they grew older. Where we previously lived was pretty trendy. It was fine when it was just my husband and I, but the bungalow is much better for a family.

"The fact that I can park my car outside, unload my shopping and leave my two boys to play in the garden is a real bonus. There is also much more space. I now have a dining-room which doubles up as a playroom for the children."

The Mackays also prefer being part of a street community rather than a tenement block.

"It is a very quiet and friendly street so I do not have to worry about opening my back door on to a main road. It is a real mix on our row of houses. We thought that if we went on an estate, there would be lots of people in our exact same situation. Here there is more of a social mix."

With a bungalow there is room for expansion, something the Mackays want to exploit.

"In our particular bungalow the attic has already been expanded into two rooms for the children but there is a large garden that is almost untouched. So we also have the choice of extending the house into the garden."

Mrs Mackay said that it didn’t bother her that bungalows had a slightly old-fashioned image. "It’s easy to personalise a space and give it a contemporary feel," she said.


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