Only way is up for single-storey homes bursting with potential
Bungalows are ripe for revamping, as Greg Kilroy showed when he transformed his into a grand design. Sharon Dale reports.
A BUILDING plot in the perfect location is rare and even if you find one, the price tag will be probably be prohibitive.
An alternative strategy for would-be self-builders is to search for a bungalow. These single-storey properties are often overlooked and branded old-fashioned but they offer enormous potential for both redevelopment and redesign.
If it is financially viable and the planning authority is happy to give the go-ahead, you can indulge in “bungalow munching” – knocking it down and replacing it with a two-storey house. If not, then you could look at redesigning and extending, especially if there is scope to put rooms in the roof.
Building contractor Greg Kilroy says: “Detached bungalows are often in good spots and on really good-sized plots, so they offer a lot of potential. Developers have been knocking them down and rebuilding for years but you can also adapt them. If you compare a four-bedroom house and a four-bedroom bungalow, the bungalow always has a bigger footprint and offers better value.”
So when Greg and his wife Laura saw a stone-built bungalow for sale in the sought-after village of Kirkby Overblow on the Leeds side of Harrogate, they could see it had more to offer than the brochure suggested.
“It was in a fantastic spot, tucked away on the edge of the village, but it had been built in 1968 and it was dated,” says Greg, who has worked on refurbishments for some of Yorkshire’s wealthiest individuals.
“As soon as I saw it, I could see what could be done to make it bigger and more contemporary.”
His first idea was to knock it down and start again but planners wouldn’t allow it, so he applied to put an extension at the rear, to raise the roof to create head height for a new first floor and to revamp the bedroom above the garage, changing it into a self-contained suite with large windows and a balcony.
His designs have transformed the bungalow into a large, modern, light-filled home with large areas of glazing and an ingenious glass lantern sunk into the roof, which is invisible from the exterior.
The 3,477 sq ft property is now a third bigger than before and is arranged over three floors. The ground floor has a large reception hall and three old bedrooms are now one enormous drawing room with bi-fold doors. There is also a snug with French doors leading to a decked area, a 22ft x 17ft living kitchen with a walk-in pantry, a separate utility room, boot room and cloakroom, plus a principal bedroom with dressing room and en-suite, a guest bedroom with en-suite, two further bedrooms and a house bathroom.
On the lower ground floor there is a bedroom/sitting room with en-suite shower room while the new first floor houses a study with under eaves storage, a cloakroom, games room and gym.
Outside there are gardens to three sides and an integral double garage.
The house has also been rewired, re-plumbed, insulated and now has underfloor heating. All the windows are timber and it has bespoke features and innovations including a hidden, spinning larder and products Greg has discovered doing his day job, like a contemporary Swedish fire.
“I’m really pleased with how the house turned out,” says Greg, who warns that planning permission can delay bungalow projects. It took 18 months for him to get the go-ahead.
“That was the main frustration. I had to keep going back with revised plans. One of my aims was to alter the layout so the main rooms all had spectacular views and I wanted to create more natural light. I’ve managed both. The sunken lantern works brilliantly at filling what would’ve been dark areas with light.”
Over near Keighley, Karen Butler is thrilled with the bungalow she bought seven years ago.
“We weren’t looking for a bungalow at all but we’d sold our cottage and were desperate to buy something quickly as the market was hot then. This was in a lovely spot and it was a good price so we bought it as a stop gap not realising how practical it would be and how much potential it had.
“It had belonged to an old person and so it needed complete modernisation. The builder we hired suggested that we do a loft conversion as there was plenty of space in the kitchen for the stairs.”
The conversion, which included raising the roof slightly, gave them two extra bedrooms, a second bathroom and a study at a cost of £35,000.
“Our sons are teenagers now and basically they have the whole upstairs, which they love, and I don’t think we’ll ever move as the bungalow will be perfect for us as we get older,” says Karen.
Greg and Laura could easily follow suit but they are selling Tremayne to pursue a lifestyle change.
They have bought a farm and barns with fishing ponds in a village near Scarborough and plan to convert the property into living and holiday accommodation.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done to this house,” adds Greg.
“But I’ve been in the building trade for years and moving to the farm and creating holiday accommodation will give me a change.”
RAISING THE ROOF: Tremayne is now a third bigger since builder Greg Kilroy extended and revamped the bungalow in Kirkby Overblow.