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A bungalow is a type of single-story house that originated in Indiamarker. The word derives from the Gujarati બંગલો baṅgalo, which in turn derives from the Hindi बंगला baṅglā, meaning "Bengalimarker" and used elliptically for a "house in the Bengalmarker style". Such houses were traditionally small, only one story and thatched, and had a wide veranda.

In Indiamarker and Pakistanmarker, the term bungalow refers to any single-family unit (i.e., a house), as opposed to an apartment building, which is the norm for Indian and Pakistani middle-class city living. The Indian sub-continent usage is different from the North American usage in that it can be applied to large, multi-storied buildings which house a single extended family. In India and Pakistan, owning a bungalow is a highly significant status symbol.

The term is first found in English from 1696, where it was used to describe "bungales or hovells" in India for English sailors of the East India Company, which do not sound very grand lodgings. Later it became used for the spacious homes or official lodgings of officials of the British Raj, and was so known in Britain and later America, where it initially had high status and exotic connotations, and began to be used in the late 19th century for large country or suburban houses built in an Arts and Crafts or other Western vernacular style - essentially as large cottages, a term also sometimes used. Later developers began to use the term for smaller houses. In Britain and North America a bungalow today is a residential house, normally detached, which is either single story, or has a second story built into a sloping roof, usually with dormer windows ("one and a half stories"). Full vertical walls are therefore only seen on one storey, at least on the front and rear elevations. Usually the houses are relatively small, especially from recent decades, though early examples may be large, in which case the term bungalow tends not to be used today.

In Singaporemarker and Malaysiamarker, the term bungalow was originally made popular by the British who popularized this building typology. It is now used erroneously to refer to a detached, single family residential dwelling usually of two to three storeys with its own compound.

In South Africa and Australia, the term bungalow never refers to a residential house but means a small holiday house, a small log house or a wooden beach house.


Bungalows are very convenient for the homeowner in that all living areas are on a single story and there are no stairs between living areas. A bungalow is well suited to those who are mobility impaired, e.g. the elderly or those in wheelchairs.

Neighborhoods of only bungalows offer more privacy than similar neighborhoods with two-story houses. With bungalows, strategically planted trees and shrubs are usually sufficient to block the view of neighbors. With two-story houses, the extra height requires much taller trees to accomplish the same, and it may not be practical to place such tall trees close to the house to obscure the view from the second floor of the next door neighbor. On the other hand, even closely spaced bungalows make for quite low density neighborhoods, contributing to urban sprawl.

Cost and space considerations

One-story bungalow with painted trim, earth-tone shingles.
On a per unit area basis (e.g. per square foot or per square metre), bungalows are more expensive to construct than two story houses because a larger foundation and roof area is required for the same living area. The larger foundation will often translate into larger lot size requirements as well. This is why bungalows are typically fully detached from other houses and do not share a common foundation nor party wall: if the homeowner can afford the extra expense of a bungalow relative to a two-story house, they can typically afford to be fully detached as well.

The smaller size however may be desirable for elderly people (perhaps with grown children) as it requires less cleaning, etc.

Though the 'footprint' of a bungalow is often a simple rectangle, any foundation is possible. For bungalows with brick walls, the windows are often positioned high and are right to the roof. This avoids the need for special arches or lintels to support the brick wall above the windows. In two-story houses, there is no choice but to continue the brick wall above the window (and the second story windows may be positioned high and right to the roof.)

Types of bungalow in Britain and North America

While the concept of a bungalow is simple, there are a number of variations upon the term, often describing where floor-space is extended above, or below the primary floor.

Ranch bungalow

A ranch bungalow is a bungalow organized so that bedrooms are on one side and "public" areas (kitchen, living/dining/family rooms) are on the other side. If there is an attached garage, the garage is on the public side of the house so that a direct entrance to the house is possible, when this is allowed by legislation. On narrower lots, public areas are at the front of the house and such an organization is typically not called a "ranch" bungalow. Such houses are often smaller and have only two bedrooms in the back.

Raised bungalow

A raised bungalow is one in which the basement is partially above ground. The benefit is that more light can enter the basement with above ground windows in the basement. A raised bungalow typically has a foyer at ground level that is half-way between the first floor and the basement. This further has the advantage of creating a foyer with a very high ceiling without the expense of raising the roof or creating a skylight. Raised bungalows often have the garage in the basement. Because the basement is not that deep, and the ground must slope downwards away from the house, the slope of the driveway is quite shallow. This avoids the disadvantage of steep driveways found in most other basement garages. Bungalows without basements can still be raised, but the advantages of raising the bungalow are much less.

Chalet Bungalow

A bungalow with loft comes with a second story loft. The loft may be extra space over the garage. It is often space to the side of a great room with a vaulted ceiling area. The house is still classified and marketed as a bungalow with loft because the main living areas of the house are on one floor. All the convenience of single floor living still applies and the loft is not expected to be accessed on a daily basis.

Some houses have extra bedrooms in the loft or attic area. Such houses are really "one and half" stories and not a bungalow, and are described in British English as a chalet bungalow or dormer bungalow. "Chalet Bungalow" is also used in British English for where the area enclosed within pitched roof contains rooms, even if this comprises a large part of the living area and is fully integrated into the fabric of the property.

True bungalows do not use the attic. Because the attic is not used, the roof pitch can be quite shallow, constrained only by snow load considerations.

American Bungalows

American Craftsman Bungalow

The American Craftsman bungalow typified the common styles of the American Arts and Crafts movement, with common features usually including: low-pitch roof lines on a gabled or hipped roof; deeply overhanging eaves; exposed rafters or decorative brackets under the eaves; and a front porch beneath an extension of the main roof.

California Bungalow

California Bungalow
The California Bungalow was a widely popular 1 1/2 story variation on the bungalow in America from 1910 to 1925. It was also widely popular in Australia within the period 1910–1940.

Ultimate Bungalow

The term ultimate bungalow is most commonly used to describe the very large and detailed Craftsman style homes of such California architects as Greene and Greene, Bernard Maybeck, and Julia Morgan.

Chicago Bungalow

A 1925 Chicago bungalow
The majority of Chicago Bungalows were built between 1910 and 1940. They were typically constructed from brick (sometimes in decorative patterns) and had one and a half stories. At one point, nearly a third of the houses in the Chicago area were bungalows. One primary difference between the Chicago bungalow and other types is that the gables are parallel to the street, rather than perpendicular. Like many other local homes, Chicago bungalows are relatively narrow, being an average of wide on a standard wide city lot.

Milwaukee Bungalow

A large fraction of the older houses in Milwaukee, Wisconsinmarker arebungalows in a similar Arts and Crafts style to those of Chicagomarker, butusually with the gable perpendicular to the street. Also, many Milwaukeebungalows have white stucco on the lower portion of the exterior.

Michigan Bungalow

There are numerous examples of Arts and Crafts bungalows built from 1910 to 1925 in the metro-Detroit area, including Royal Oakmarker. Keeping in line with the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement, the bungalows were constructed using local building materials.

Bungalow Colony

A special use of the term "bungalow" developed in the greater New York City area, between the 1930s and 1970s to denote a cluster of small rental summer homes, usually in the Catskill Mountains in the area known as the Borscht Belt. First and second generation Jewish-American families were especially likely to rent such homes.

The old bungalow colonies continue to exist in the Catskills, mainly occupied today by Hassidic Jews.

Australasian Bungalows

The bungalow style often referred to as "California Bungalow" was very popular in Australasia from about 1910 to 1930. The style seems to have first been imported in Sydneymarker and then spread throughout the Australian states and New Zealandmarker.

Canadian bungalow

Canada uses the American definition of bungalow to mean a single family dwelling, though it is sometimes also used in the South African sense, to apply to a vacationer's cottage.

Real estate

Bungalows were popular in the Torontomarker area from the 1950s to 1970 period. Early bungalows were single-level brick structures. The later structures often came with an open canopy garage attached to the side. Bungalows are found in suburban areas in and around the Greater Toronto Area.

The outer boroughs of Toronto are home to hundreds of thousands of bungalows, usually lining tree-dotted side-streets. Once the city ran out of room, the prices of such houses rapidly increased due to their proximity to downtown, effect of condensing neighborhoods, and being situated on massive lots. East Yorkmarker, Scarboroughmarker, Yorkmarker and North York led in large-scale gentrification and story-addition of these bungalows, leading to neighborhoods excelling from middle-class (and even lower-middle-class) areas to upper-middle-class and upper-class neighborhoods. This is exemplified around North York Centre and Scarborough City Centremarker.

Old Torontomarker has very few bungalows and Etobicokemarker is mixed, since some areas are becoming the richest in the city, and some are becoming the poorest, leading to city blocks that can go from upper-middle-class to poverty.

Bungalows were also popular in Calgarymarker and Edmontonmarker from the late 1940s through the 1960s. Albertanmarker bungalows are single-level wooden structures, typically less than , and normally feature a detached garage facing onto a back alley, a single bathroom, two or three bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen, and a small living room. In Calgary, most are located in the neighbourhoods immediately surrounding the inner city, such as Marda Loopmarker, Radisson Heightsmarker, Crescent Heights, and Killarneymarker. As property values have skyrocketed, developers have been purchasing the old bungalows and replacing them with luxury duplexes, each side of which may sell for upwards of $750,000 each.


Bungalows are advertised in various locations as an alternative to motels or hotels for vacationers. As in South Africa, the term can mean a small wooden frame house, or one of log construction.

Irish Bungalow

1980s Irish Bungalow
The bungalow is the most common house built in the Irishmarker countryside. In the 1990s though, there has been a decline in the number of bungalows for the more favored 2-storey or dormer bungalows. Bungalows became popular as there was a trend in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland of people moving into rural areas and buying their own plots of land. Often these plots were large, so a one story building was more practical, particularly for retired people.

British Bungalows

Bungalows became popular in the United Kingdommarker between the Wars, and very large numbers were built, particularly in coastal resorts, giving rise to the pejorative adjective, "bungaloid", first found in the Daily Express from 1927: "Hideous allotment and bungaloid growth make the approaches to any city repulsive". Many villages and seaside resorts have large estates of bungalows, usually occupied by retired people. The typical 1930s bungalow is square in plan, with 1960s ones more likely to be oblong. Nearly all are brick built. It is rare for the term to be used in UK English to denote a house having other than a single story.


  1. OED "bungalow"; Online Etymology Dictionary
  3. OED, unless "hovells" meant haveli rather than the English word "hovel"
  4. First cited use of a building in Britain by the OED in 1903.
  5. The Chicago Bungalow, Field Guide to Chicago Area Buildings
  6. Calgary News & Entertainment Weekly
  7. Example of bungalow rentals in Alberta
  8. OED, "bungaloid"

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