But now a majority of those living on the Excalibur Estate in Catford, south east London, have agreed they are not fit for 21st century living.
Just six of the prefabs will be preserved, along with the pre-fabricated St Mark’s Church, thanks to their Grade II listing.
Existing residents will be offered the opportunity to be rehoused and the 371 new properties – 60 per cent affordable housing – will go on sale from £320,000 for a one-bedroom low-rise flat (0333 003 3738; excaliburse6.co.uk).
Catford is one of London’s most affordable districts and the Excalibur Estate’s redevelopment by housing association L&Q came after consultation with the Borough of Lewisham.
In later phases there will also be bungalows, in a nod to the estate’s history, but this is almost unheard of in modern London developments.
London has the lowest percentage of bungalows within its housing stock – less than one per cent – because of the low returns for developers.
There’s much more money to be made from building up.
Alex Gosling, CEO of online estate agents housesimple.com, confirms their popularity with downsizers but says: “Without any incentives or government intervention, why should housebuilders choose needs over profit?”
He adds: “There is every chance that housebuilders could stop building bungalows altogether in the next three to five years.
“The knock-on effect of that eventuality could be catastrophic if provisions aren’t put in place.”
Private developers often buy bungalows to rebuild them into houses that they can sell for higher prices.
This has led to a shortage of single-storey homes, which in turn is pushing up prices per square foot.
Builder Nick Dymott has transformed a bungalow in Cuddington, Berkshire, into a contemporary family home with an open-plan kitchen-dining-living room with bi-fold doors out to the garden and easy-access ground-floor shower room.
It’s on the market for £775,000 with Hamnett Hayward (01844 215371; hamnetthayward.co.uk).
He has also added a loft bedroom, but experts at Stacks Property Search say extending outwards rather than upwards may have been more profitable.
“A good lateral extension and improvement project is likely to show a good return on investment,” says the company’s Louise Ridings.
“Bungalows suit contemporary design trends for open-plan, lateral space with plenty of opportunity to create access to outside living areas.”
Her other advice for bungalow owners is: “Invest in energy efficiency – plenty of roof space is great for solar panels – and landscaping.
“Look at ways of creating interesting and useable indoor/outdoor ergonomics, hiding car parking, and adding character to what is often a large but rather bland plot.
“As our population ages, high-end bungalows are the asset class of the future, so you must expect to pay now.
“The days of getting a cheap bungalow because it isn’t a great beauty are sadly long gone.”
Colleague Bill Spreckley adds: “The price of the humble bungalow will continue its march upwards as it achieves rarity value.”
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