CAD Divider

Extending a bungalow to create exciting new living space

Jun 19, 2023

By Laura Potts MRTPI, Planning Consultant, CAD Planning

Bungalows are often sited on generous plots of land and often have open plan living spaces making them highly flexible. This means that bungalows are ideal for extension. As a result, bungalows in attractive locations such as Cornwall and Devon have become much sought-after over recent years, partly fuelled by the trend towards multi-generational living.

There is a great range of options for extending a bungalow, thereby creating substantial additional space and giving owners an opportunity to really make the most of their property. Extending in this way can offer an excellent return on investment for owners.

Bungalows are the single most desirable property type in the UK, as confirmed by research from estate agents Strutt & Parker in 2022. Their poll of 2,000 people revealed that of those who want to move in the next five years, 22 per cent want a bungalow as their future home.

As well as appealing to older people looking to future-proof their home, bungalows also increasingly appeal to younger people looking to remodel the property and create a stunning architect-designed family home. Recent planning legislation has made it easier to extend bungalows, which boosts their development potential and highlights their flexibility.

Let’s look at some of the alternatives for building upward or building outward when you extend a bungalow.

Building upward

It is worth noting that changes to Permitted Development Rights came into effect in 2020, which allow certain homeowners to extend upwards without the need for full planning permission. They can obtain Prior Approval from their local council to extend their home provided their project fits within certain parameters:

· The bungalow was constructed between 1 July 1948 and 5 March 2018.

· You submit an application to your local authority for prior approval.

· The existing bungalow is a single dwelling and it hasn’t previously had a change of use under permitted development.

· It’s not previously been extended upwards.

· You’re not adding more than 3.5m to the total height (and if it adjoins another house, it can’t be more than 3.5m taller than the adjoining house or tallest house in the terrace).

· The floor to ceiling height internally of the new storey should not exceed 3m (or the internal height of the existing house).

· It’s not on Article 2(3) land or a site of specific interest. Article 2(3) includes national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites. The latter three are commonly found in the South West.

· The additional storey is constructed on the principal part of the house.

· Engineering operations must stay within the existing curtilage of the house to strengthen walls and foundations.

· There are no new windows to the side elevations of the house.

· Exterior finishes and materials must be similar to the existing.

· The roof pitch should be the same as the principal part of the original house.

These conditions are only relevant if you plan to build under Permitted Development Rights. If you apply for full planning permission, then more options may be open to you.

As usual with Permitted Development Rights, you will need to submit a Prior Approval application. This will ensure your plans fit within the rules set out for these of developments.

Converting the loft space into a dormer extension remains a very popular choice and can be done without changing the footprint of the building. They can also be one of the most cost-effective options for increasing the size of your bungalow. You have probably seen examples of dormer extensions that are not very attractive, but using a skilled architect to create a well-designed dormer extension that blends elegantly with the existing building will deliver a very effective solution.

If you wish to add a dormer extension using Permitted Development Rights, then it is vital that the new roof line doesn’t exceed the existing one. Also any side-facing windows need to be non-opening below 1.7m and use obscure glazing to protect neighbours’ privacy.

The more ambitious approach, but one that can yield huge benefits, is to add a whole new upper storey to your bungalow. This gives you the opportunity to double the size of your living space while staying within the existing footprint of your building. Therefore, this can be a good solution if the size of your plot is limited.

Adding a new storey is a more expensive option and it does come with some important restrictions. The construction and style of the roof must remain the same as the existing building. In terms of height, the new storey is allowed to be either the same height as the floor to ceiling measurement of the existing floor, or up to three metres in internal height – whichever is the lower.

For this approach, it is likely that some structural steelwork will be needed to support the new floor, particularly as many bungalows were not built with load-bearing internal walls.

It is also important that the foundations are thoroughly checked, to ensure that they are strong enough to cope with the extra weight that they will need to support. One of the ways in which the weight of the new storey can be reduced is by the use of a timber frame construction.

Increasing the height may have implications on the design of the host building, the increased visual impact of the property, and potential impact on neighbouring properties. You are advised to seek advice on your proposals from the early stages so that any potential planning issues can be identified.

Building outward

If you have sufficient space in your plot, then you can consider extending to the back and to the side of your property.

The options open to you here a very similar to those that would be considered when extending a house. For example, rear extensions will often be added to accommodate a new kitchen diner or to allow for more open-plan living. Bi-folding doors that open out on to the garden can meet the desire for ‘inside-outside’ living.

For larger bungalows, another option is to extend one side of the rear of the property, to reconfigure the bungalow into an L-shaped building, which can give a very impressive result. Where there is sufficient space, double storey side extensions can also be considered for certain types of bungalow.

It is worth highlighting some of the planning guidance regarding single storey rear extensions:

· No more than half the area of land around the original house should be covered by additions or other buildings. Sheds and other outbuildings must be included when calculating the 50 per cent limit.

· Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house.

· Single-storey rear extensions must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than 4m if a detached house; or more than 3m for any other house.

New possibilities

Whichever approach you decide is right for you, the addition of this new space can be transformational for enjoyment of your property. It gives you the opportunity to re-think the way that you use your home in a number of ways, such as:

· Extending and improving the living areas

· Reconfiguring and modernising the internal layout

· Moving sleeping areas upstairs

· Preparing for multi-generational living (e.g. new annex for older relatives)

· Improving the natural lighting of your property

· Upgrading the thermal insulation of your home using the latest materials

Working with us

When you work with CAD Architects, we will listen carefully to your ambitions for your property, so that we can respond with great design ideas for your bungalow extension.

As well as outstanding building design expertise, we also have our own in-house structural engineer which can advise on more complex projects, such as adding a new storey to an existing bungalow.

If there are any particular challenges regarding planning permission for your bungalow extension, then our own Planning Consultancy team will be able to offer best advice for your project and help steer it through the approval project.

Get in touch with CAD Architects today to discuss your project.

Contact us at : or call us on 01872 630040.