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So you’re thinking of buying a bungalow?

Tips on buying a bungalow in the UK or abroad

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By Pete Mugleston  | Mortgage Advisor Pete has been a mortgage advisor for over 10 years, and is regularly cited in both trade and national press.

Updated: 3rd July 2019* | Published: 28th March 2019

Bungalow properties can be great for those with mobility issues, but they can be harder to mortgage than the average home, particularly if you’re buying a Woolaway bungalow or other single storey house built with non-standard materials.

In response to the tonnes of enquiries we get on this subject, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide, and you’ll find the following topics covered below...

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Pros and cons of buying a bungalow

Since you’ve landed on this page, the chances are you’re already sold on the benefits of buying a bungalow: stair-free space is obviously ideal for elderly residents or for anyone with mobility issues, and this aspect can be great for families with young children too. But why else might a buyer be drawn to these primarily post-war properties?

Benefits of buying a bungalow

  • Layout:
    Bungalows tend to have spacious floor plans with generously-sized rooms and can offer more living space overall than flats or standard houses.
  • Accessibility:
    Living on a single floor means everywhere can be reached easily - no need to hire a window cleaner or lift furniture further than the front door.
  • Conversion potential:
    Many bungalows can be extended or have a lot of loft space that can be converted relatively straightforwardly, which is likely to work out cheaper than buying a home with additional rooms.
  • Plot size:
    Tends to be larger than average with gardens that can run the full width of the property

Bungalows can clearly be spacious, practical and flexible. So what’s not to like?

Disadvantages of buying a bungalow

  • Non-standard construction is more common (e.g. flat roofs, prefab style, unusual materials such as concrete or timber frame) which can put some lenders off or result in higher interest rates. They are also more costly to insure.
  • Demographics: at least in the UK, bungalows slant towards older residents, which can deter some buyers, and could potentially affect value. However, this could be an advantage in some areas.

Is buying a bungalow a good investment?

The answer to this question will ultimately come down to your needs and circumstances.

If you’re hoping to profit from your purchase, is it worth buying a bungalow? Bungalows have great potential to increase their long-term value at resale, particularly if you’re thinking of buying a bungalow to extend, as this can significantly increase the overall size and number of bedrooms.

The demand for bungalows in the UK also currently outstrips supply, and with an ageing population this demand is only likely to increase. Meanwhile, there are not many new bungalows being built because they tend to occupy bigger plots of land, and for developers there’s far more money in more densely-built townhouses and blocks.

On the other hand they are not such great investments if you want to make money on rental income as they’re often located outside cities and town centres where the market is weaker, and they are generally less popular with renters (there are exceptions of course, and you’ll probably find plenty of tenants if you’re buying a bungalow in London or another major city).

For advice on whether a bungalow mortgage is the right course of action for you, make an enquiry and the expert brokers we work with will discuss this with you.

What to look for when buying a bungalow

Depending on your lifestyle and personal preferences there’ll be many  questions you probably want to ask when hunting for your new property. Can it be extended? Does it need renovation? Is the decor to your taste or will it need a makeover?

There are, however, a number of less obvious but important questions to ask when buying a bungalow that will heavily influence your chances of getting a mortgage. These relate to the construction and ‘type’ of bungalow you are buying, as some fall into a category of ‘non-standard’ property for many lenders.

To establish whether this is likely to apply, you might want to start by asking:

  • What materials is the bungalow made of? (including the roof and frame)
  • What year was it built?
  • Do you know what ‘type’ of bungalow it is? (e.g. Woolaway, Dorran, Colt)
  • Has it been ‘standardised’ by replacing any unusual materials with standard ones?

Once you know the type of bungalow you’re buying, you’ll have a better idea of your mortgage options. Many bungalows are simply one-storey homes built from perfectly standard materials, but you may struggle on the mortgage front if it falls into one of the following categories:

Woolaway bungalows

A woolaway bungalow is a type of prefabricated property built around a concrete frame, and originally with concrete wall panels too. The original construction can be hard to heat because they don’t have cavity walls, but many have now had the concrete walls replaced with traditional brickwork  that can be insulated.

Getting a woolaway bungalow mortgage

If you plan to take out a mortgage on a Woolaway bungalow you will need to find out whether it has a PRC certificate of Completion which proves that it’s been renovated with standard cavity walls using the officially recognised method. No high street lenders and only one or two specialists will consider mortgaging a Woolaway bungalow without a PRC certificate.

We recommend you speak to an expert if you are looking to get a Woolaway bungalow mortgage whether or not the property has been renovated, as many of these products are not available on the open market: we work with several advisors with experience in this area, so call us on 0800 304 7880 or make an enquiry if you want to explore the options.

Colt bungalows

A Colt bungalow is a type of ‘flat packed’ property built around a timber frame, which is often used in self-build projects. Unlike Woolaways, these bungalows are quite energy efficient and easy to heat, and some are sold as ‘eco homes’. Some are completely built from timber, while others have a solid brick ‘skin’.

Getting a Colt bungalow mortgage

Thinking of buying a Colt bungalow? In the right circumstances, the advisors we work with can help you get a reasonable mortgage deal on a home of this type, potentially without being limited to specialist lenders. While timber framed properties are seen as non-standard construction by many providers, more are being built due to their sustainability, and they’re increasingly popular with buyers.

If the bungalow has been built with a brick skin and to sufficient insulation standards, more lenders will be willing to make you an offer, however many will still exercise caution and rates may be higher than average. For Colt bungalows and other timber frame houses (such as ‘log cabins’) with completely wooden exteriors, a mortgage will be harder to come by and a specialist lender is advised; speak to an expert to get the best deal.

Dorran bungalows

Dorran houses are another type of prefabricated construction built in the post-war period, characterised by walls made from precast concrete panels that are supported with iron pins.

Getting a mortgage for a Dorran Bungalow

Like Woolaway bungalows and other ‘prefab’ style properties, Dorran homes can be difficult to mortgage with a mainstream  lender, and unless the concrete has been replaced with standard bricks and a PRC certificate issued, they are usually considered unmortgageable: if you’re thinking of buying a Dorran Bungalow, we suggest you speak to an expert broker for mortgage advice.

You may find other examples of bungalows made from non-standard materials, and in these cases the same rules will apply when seeking a mortgage.

Buying a chalet bungalow or dormer

There are many more names for types of bungalow that simply refer to the the architectural style, not the materials. ‘Chalet bungalow’ for example refers to a bungalow with upstairs bedrooms usually in a converted loft, and ‘dormer bungalow’ is the same but with dormer windows installed to create more space.

Buying a bungalow in a park

Another type of bungalow you might encounter is a ‘park home’ or lodge. Regardless of the type of construction, these properties cannot usually be mortgaged because the land is owned by a site owner who rents out the space.

However, there are some rare exceptions if the land itself can be purchased along with a property as piece of freehold land: this is unusual, and you’ll usually have to take out a loan or buy with cash. Make an enquiry to speak with an expert advisor for more information.

Bungalow mortgages: what else to consider

There are a number of additional things to consider when buying a bungalow, but once you’re ready to move on to the mortgage application stage, the process is the same as for any other property purchase:

Deposit for bungalow mortgages

Most lenders can offer bungalow mortgages with 85%-95% loan to value (LTV), which is the equivalent to a deposit of 5%-15% or more. With standard construction you should be able to find lenders who’ll accept a deposit in this range, but any non-standard elements will almost always mean a bigger deposit at the lender’s discretion. This will be further impacted by any credit issues or anything else that raises your risk profile. For more information on mortgage deposits check out our guide here.

Getting a bungalow mortgage with bad credit

Credit history is one aspect of your finances that lenders will assess before deciding whether to make you an offer , and the more bad credit you have on your file, the fewer mortgage providers  will consider lending, meaning less favourable interest rates and a larger deposit.

This could make it very difficult to get approved for a mortgage at all if you’re buying a bungalow with non-standard features - speak to an expert if you’re worried about the impact of your credit history.

Find out more about bad credit mortgages.

Buying a bungalow in retirement or later life

Bungalows are popular with older buyers and provided you can find a lender that offers products for older borrowers (such as retirement interest only/RIO mortgages or lifetime mortgages), you should have no more of a problem getting a mortgage on your bungalow than any other applicant. Just keep in mind that some lenders have an upper age limit of 75 and others 85, although there are a minority who will consider lending to a retiree of any age, under the right circumstances.

Buying a bungalow with subsidence

Subsidence is a structural problem that can cause a headache for buyers, and can make it hard to get a mortgage without costly repairs being carried out. The good news here is that bungalows are less susceptible to subsidence as they exert less pressure on the ground than other building types, but where subsidence is present you will need to ensure certain repair works are carried out.

Buying a bungalow abroad

Bungalows are far more common in several other countries than they are in the UK so if you’re thinking of buying a bungalow in Thailand, Toronto, Mumbai or anywhere else where this type of property is far more ‘standard’, you may find you have a lot more choice!

One final piece of advice on buying a bungalow abroad: the word ‘Bungalow’ can have a slightly different meaning in different parts of the world, for example in Singapore, it is used to mean any Colonial-era property of a certain style. So if you’re buying a bungalow in Singapore, you may end up with a few more floors than you’d bargained for!

Speak to an expert on buying a bungalow today!

If you have further questions about buying a bungalow and want to speak to an expert for the right advice, call Online Mortgage Advisor today on 0800 304 7880 or make an enquiry here.

Then sit back and let us do all the hard work in finding the broker with the right expertise for your circumstances.  – We don’t charge a fee and there’s absolutely no obligation or marks on your credit rating.

Updated: 3rd July 2019
OnlineMortgageAdvisor 2019 ©

FCA disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The info on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs. Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.