California-Style Bungalow Vs. Ranch-Style Bungalow: What's The Difference?

Bungalows are one-story houses that are usually picked and appreciated for their simplicity. According to MasterClass, the history of what we now know as the bungalow can be traced back to 19th century India, specifically in Bengal, where it was called the Bangla or Bangala style. It means "belonging to Bengal" in the Hindustani language. Bungalows are known for their limited size and open, simple floor plans. They are more affordable, easier to manage, and can be more accessible since they don't have stairs. In addition to the classic bungalow, there are other styles that differ in how the house is structured and the materials that are used.

This article focuses on California and ranch-style bungalows. The 'California Bungalow' became a familiar term in Los Angeles around 1905 and was intended to make housing simpler and more accessible for individual, middle-class families (via LAist). The ranch-style bungalow has more of an open layout for the rooms and common areas, low roofs, and usually includes additional spaces like a basement or garage, according to MyDomaine.

How Does The Appearance Differ?

The California bungalow was intended to be simple and for smaller-sized homes. This simple layout usually includes siding made of wood, a roof that is low-pitched and gables, as well as wide eaves, and a front porch, per LAist. Using natural materials is a significant part of this house type. Brick is very common for this style, but weatherboard and timber are also used. The average size of a California bungalow is 1,800 sq. ft., per Fixr.

A traditional ranch-style house is frequently built with large windows, a patio space, and separated bedrooms, says MyDomaine. The bedrooms are usually on one side of the house, with the common areas on the other. Because this style also has roots in California, its unique open-concept layout offered something different from the commonly-found Spanish colonial and craftsman-style houses (via MyDomaine). A low-pitched roof is another distinguishing characteristic of this type. This is when the roof has a vertical rise of around 4 inches per foot, lower than the average of 6 inches per foot.

What Are The Differences In Cost?

There are two main ways of building a bungalow: stick building and modular building. Stick building is more conventional. It involves constructing and building the house on the laid foundation. In a modular building, the house is constructed off-site, and then the finished product gets delivered to the site.

According to Fixr, building a California bungalow with the modular method can cost between $144,000 and $180,000, while the stick building method can cost between $216,000 and $315,000. The average cost of building a ranch-style bungalow is around $120,000 to $150,000 with the modular method and $180,000 to $262,500 for the stick. While the ranch is less expensive than the California, keep in mind that an average house in this style is smaller at around 1,500 sq. ft. (via Fixr).

Recommended use of Ranch-style

Do you want to be efficient with your space? This style is for you! The main selling point for ranch-style bungalows is the open-concept floor plans. This key feature involves being able to access all areas of the house effortlessly and easily move through the property, from front to back. According to MyDomaine, the history of this style was also to encourage ease of movement not only within the house but between the structure and its surroundings.

This is ideal for singles, couples, and those who want a smaller, more efficient property that requires less maintenance. Households with small children and the elderly can also benefit from this since the open layout makes the house easy to navigate. If you love to host, you would also enjoy this option because it comes with a backyard or patio space.

Recommended use of California-style

Are affordability and simplicity at the top of your priority list? Is your home in a warm, dry climate? The California-style bungalow is right for you — it's why it's so popular in Australia in addition to Southern California. While this is more expensive than the ranch-style, it usually gives you more added space with the porches and balconies.

If having a front porch to sit on and even build-out with an enclosure is something else that's important to you, consider this option with its generous porch space and overhanging eaves. Bungalows are great for older people and those that need ease of mobility, and the porches on California-style bungalows are simple ways to access and enjoy the outside. If a total build-out is on your radar, this option is quite popular for expansion and renovation, according to Domain, so you can have a lot of fun with it.