The rise, fall (and rise) of the hum­ble bun­ga­low

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

lows that are likely to go by 2021, equal to one in 15 of the to­tal num­ber in Eng­land. This is bad news for older coun­cil house ten­ants, and it could also be de­vel­op­ers that snap them up to sim­ply build anew on the land.

Harry Pen­sion, 74, a for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer, may have moved into his bun­ga­low be­fore they be­come ex­tinct com­pletely. Last year, he moved into one that his fam­ily bought for him near Diss in Nor­folk. At £230,000 it cost the same as a mod­est-sized fam­ily home, thanks to the pre­mium that bun­ga­lows at­tract as de­mand vastly ex­ceeds sup­ply. Fig­ures from Right­move sug­gest that the av­er­age bun­ga­low is 16.3 per cent more ex­pen­sive than an equiv­a­lent house on more than one floor, cost­ing an av­er­age of £323,351, com­pared with £278,068.

“It was up­set­ting to leave my house, but it was too hard to man­age,” ex­plains Pen­sion. “A bun­ga­low is ideal for all the ob­vi­ous rea­sons: size, smaller gar­den, no stairs. But it took around a year to find one on sale in the right place and it wasn’t much cheaper than my pre­vi­ous ter­raced house, which is why my sons stepped in to help with the pay­ment.”

Now MPs have taken up the fight in the coun­try­side. The All-Party Par­lia­men­tary Group on Hous­ing and Care for Older Peo­ple says that by 2038 more than 40 per cent of ru­ral house­holds will in­clude some­one aged over 65, and it wants coun­cil plan­ners to se­cure ap­pro­pri­ate homes for them, up­ping the num­ber of bun­ga­lows built.

The sin­gle-storey is in short sup­ply in cities, too. Re­search on Right­move shows there are just 142 bun­ga­lows for sale in Lon­don out of around 52,000 homes listed in to­tal; in Manch­ester there were fewer than 70 among 4,370 list­ings; and in Birm­ing­ham just 122 out of 3,760. Prices in all of these lo­ca­tions were higher, too: bun­ga­lows usu­ally start at £100,000 (and more than twice that much in Lon­don) mak­ing their cost per square foot among the high­est of any type of home.

But there is a lit­tle good news. Ex­perts say that if you can snap one up be­fore a de­vel­oper does, the bun­ga­low lends it­self to mod­erni­sa­tion and, of course, more than holds its value. “Bun­ga­lows have been lived in by the el­derly, for ob­vi­ous rea­sons, and are of­ten not in great con­di­tion when they come to mar­ket,” ex­plains James Shaw of the buy­ing agency Prime Pur­chase. “But mak­ing changes should be straight­for­ward, as walls aren’t load-bear­ing in the same way as in a two-storey prop­erty. They lend them­selves to re­fur­bish­ment.”

The poor de­sign of most bun­ga­lows con­structed in the Six­ties and Sev­en­ties makes this the pri­or­ity for many. For the more ad­ven­tur­ous, bun­ga­lows typ­i­cally have large gar­dens mak­ing ex­ten­sions pos­si­ble.

If the roof has 8ft 2in of space at its high­est spot, the space in­side could be used for a bed­room or mez­za­nine while still pre­serv­ing the es­sen­tial sin­glelevel feel of the bun­ga­low. This might even be pos­si­ble un­der so-called per­mit­ted devel­op­ment rights, mean­ing it would not re­quire plan­ning con­sent as long as the home was out­side a con­ser­va­tion area. You could, of course, ex­tend it into a house. But should we re­ally lose a bun­ga­low when they al­ready face ex­tinc­tion? That would be a sad way to end a storey.

A house in An­dover, £550,000 with Strutt & Parker

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