Extension ideas for bungalows – from dormer loft conversions to elegant conservatories

Make the most of the living space on offer

The single storey dwelling is popular for all types of buyers – offering plenty of potential to suit all lifestyles, particularly when our extension ideas for bungalows are taken on board.

Of course, demand for bungalows is always high among those of a certain age who are looking to downsize to a property they can future proof, or that doesn't require the compromises of an apartment. But they are also proving increasingly popular with a younger generation, who are looking for a renovation project filled with potential.

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According to Simply Bungalows, ‘Research by Alliance and Leicester reveals that although just two per cent of homes in Britain are bungalows, a staggering third of the population would like to live in one. Around 35 per cent of respondents described a bungalow as their dream home.'

Bungalows are small but mighty properties, packed with potential. Part of the appeal is the existing footprint, which is already large in order to fit all the requirements of a house within one floor. Meaning by the time you have added an extension you could potentially be doubling your living space, depending on the style of extension you choose.

What are the best extensions for a bungalow?

Typically Dormer loft extensions are favourable for bungalows, adding rooms and additional room within the loft space. For the more ambitious there's the option to remove the roof entirely and extend upwards to double the accommodation, where planning permission is permitted.

'The number one thing you can do to a bungalow, subject to permissions, is add another floor,' says Nick Varey, Founder and Principal Architect, Studio Varey Architects. 'Turning the humble bungalow into a family sized house. It isn’t always possible to do this by simply adding another floor on top. The structure may not be strong enough to support, so a structural engineer will be needed to provide advice.'

Extension ideas for bungalows

1. Extend the structure across the back

bungalow with roof extension

(Image credit: TBC)

If you live in a bungalow on a street with houses that already have more than one floor, you should be easily granted planning permission to extend beyond the existing roof space.

Adding Dormer windows at the front helps to retain the character of a traditional bungalow extension. However at the back you can extend to a full ceiling height to create a more head space.

2. Extend the kitchen

extend the kitchen

(Image credit: TBC)

Add a single storey extension out the back to open up the kitchen space. Adding thoughtful aspects of glass, such a lantern roof and bi-folding doors will help to flood the newly extending space with plenty of natural light.

Lindsey Wislocki, of Hedgehog Architects, tells Ideal Home 'one of the best extensions for a bungalow is to extend the kitchen out the back. Doing so engages the kitchen with the garden, to create a more thoughtful space'. Finishing the build with glass doors and skylight windows allows more light to enhance the space.

3. Look to the light

inside single storey glass conservatory extension with doors and windows with black frames

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Still)

Light is the one commodity you can never underestimate. It can help to make even the smallest of spaces feel miles bigger. Architect Jeremy Lim says, 'Envisage spaces extending up to the underside of the roof to create dramatic and contrasting internal spaces. A well-designed variety of heights will add a feeling of luxury and quality within the dwelling.'

4. Mix loft conversion styles

mix loft conversion styles

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

This converted bungalow has been sympathetic to the single storey nature of the original structure, by using the loft space to add another floor without changing the exterior too greatly. Here, a combination of Dormer loft and skylight windows has been used.

Skylight loft conversions are the most favourable style design, because they don't alter the roof structure. 'Space however is more restrictive than other types of conversions,' warns Rob Wood, Director of Simply Loft.

That's why here, to maximise the scale of space, the owner has also incorporated elements of a Dormer loft conversion. This allow for a more generous head height in different areas, such as an attic bedroom.

5. Enhance the architecture with a garden room

ideal home bungalow with roof extension and garden room

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tom Scott)

Add a light and airy extension to a bungalow with the addition of a glass house or conservatory. Thanks to the nature of a bungalow, one without modifications, the living space is on the ground floor which makes a garden structure idea for united the outside with the indoors.

'Conservatories can be built to suit any period of architecture. It is of primary importance that the design of a conservatory is sympathetic to the existing property in terms of both size and architectural detailing' says Lisa Morton, Director at Vale Garden Houses.  For many properties, existing detail on a house such as window style can be incorporated and mirrored within the conservatory, which will most certainly benefit the new addition.'

'Where possible utilise matching building materials for the baseworks' Lisa advises. 'Reclaimed or handmade bricks, stone, flint facings and render all need to be appropriate to the building. Try to invest in the best quality you can afford, as bespoke built conservatories will be individually tailored to your needs and add value to your property.'

6. Add depth with an L-shaped extension

add depth with an l shaped extension

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

Consider an L-shaped extension to add a depth to the ground floor layout. Being able to see one end of the house to the other across the L-shape will help to make it feel more united. Allowing the garden to act as a courtyard to the layout helps to engage the outdoor space into the design. Overcome dark internal spaces by creating an open-plan design.

7. Keep it simple with a skylight loft extension

keep it simple with a skylight loft extension

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

'A skylight or VELUX window conversion is one of the simplest and most cost-effective loft conversions to build' explains Rob Wood. Because the roof of the property is not altered in any way and only windows are added it generally means planning permission is not required.

8. Extend into the garden

bedroom with french doors

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

A ground floor bedroom can benefit enormously from the addition of French doors which extend the space out to the garden. The nature of the main living spaces residing on the ground means it's a shame not to make the most of the elements as a feature.

One-storey homes can easily open outwards, which means that landscaping should be considered as an integral part of the overall design, as the exterior becomes part of the home. Whether extending out to the permitted meterage to allow extra space for access, or simply putting a wall of doors in, it's an opportunity to make the inside and outside spaces flow seamlessly. Add shutters to ensure privacy.

Do you need planning permission to extend a bungalow?

Whether or not you need planning permission for extending your bungalow all depends on how you wish to make changes.

If you're looking to add more space with a loft conversion it's most likely you won't require planning permission. A standard skylight loft extension commonly falls under 'permitted development' – in other words, you don't need planning permission to have one.

However with Dormer or Mansard loft conversions you will need to seek permissions.

'Yes and no' says Nick Varey at Studio Varey Architects. 'Some permitted development rights do exist for houses that allow for the addition of roof extensions (40 cubic metres for terraced properties, 50 cubic metres for detached). It is important to check whether your property still has its Permitted Development right. Some properties have had them removed because the property is located in a certain area, such as a Conservation Area or Green Belt.'

It's always best to check your rights before embarking on a building project. Avoiding planning permission restrictions is good news, as the planning process can be a long and tricky one.

However, special rules and guidelines govern conservation areas and listed buildings. If your house is listed, you will need Listed Building Consent. And if you live in a conservation area you’ll need permission for any dormers or extensions. Visit the Planning Portal to research your permission needs further.

How much does it cost to extend a bungalow?

'For building cost estimates budget somewhere in the region of £250 - £350 per square foot as a benchmark' Nick advises. 'If you do need to rebuild from the ground up, this would constitute a new build home. You'd then qualify for zero per cent VAT, which represents a significant saving.'

Can you add a second floor to a bungalow?

Essex bungalow real home house tour

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

'Yes. Changes to the Permitted Development rights introduced in August 2020 give the potential to add an additional storey to some homes across the UK, without the need for planning permission' Nick explains. 'But we do caution that prior approval, which differs from planning permission, is still required. Your appointed Architect can advise on this'

Related: How to plan a loft conversion - advice for planning and costing your dream space

'If the home was built between 1 July 1948 and 28 October 2018, the homeowner can add an additional storey to the property and retain the roof. The roof essentially gets moved one storey up. Checks would need to be carried out to see if the property qualifies. But generally speaking this is an open and viable route to consider for the development of bungalow properties.'


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.