Common problems and remedies

A wide range of problems and issues – affecting design and structure – will need to be considered as part of any bungalow renovation.

Because of the use of native timbers, and because of design features such as wide eaves and piled foundations with good subfloor ventilation, most bungalows have endured well. However, methods of construction and detailing do vary widely from house to house, and some are better constructed than others.

In planning any renovation project, the state of the existing building should be carefully reviewed.

Design and layout

In many respects, original bungalow layout and design did not meet modern standards. Likewise, alterations may have been unsympathetic or poorly carried out. When planning a bungalow renovation, things to consider may include:

  • indoor/outdoor flow 
  • the relationship of spaces, such as bathrooms and toilet being remote from sleeping spaces
  • orientation to the sun
  • natural light levels
  • number of power outlets and light fittings
  • garaging
  • compliance with current Resource Management Act constraints such as side yards and site coverage for new additions. 

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Other problems and remedies

The basic principle of renovation is to begin with any necessary work to the foundations, then look at roof repairs necessary, and then work in other areas.

Structural weakness

Structural problems in bungalows include undersized framing, chimneys and other brickwork with failing mortar, and problems with foundations and subfloor.  Read more.

Matching new to existing

With any bungalow renovation, there will be areas – such as framing, roofing, cladding, mouldings and leadlight glazing – where original features need to be replaced or new construction must merge with existing. Read more


Bungalows were typically constructed without insulation. Even with modifications, most bungalows fall below current insulation requirements. Read more.

Moisture and weathertightness

Bungalows have generally coped well with moisture because of their wide eaves and weatherboard construction. But they may leak in extreme weather, and may experience problems such as rising damp or leakage around windows. Read more.


Borer is unsightly and can sometimes affect a house’s structure. Read more


Rot is common when moisture is present, and can cause significant structural damage. Read more


Mould is common when moisture is present, and can be harmful to health. Read more.

Health risks 

Asbestos and lead can cause serious health problems and may be present in bungalows.

Fire safety

Fire safety was not generally a consideration when bungalows were being built. Read more

Foundations and subfloors

Many bungalows have uneven floors and need to be repiled or levelled. Some have inadequate foundation bracing, insufficient ground clearance, or insufficient subfloor ventilation causing dampness under the building.


Bungalow floors should be checked for borer and other damage, and will benefit from underfloor insulation. Read more.

Roofing and cladding

Common problems with roofing and cladding include corrosion of metals such as flashings and fixings, lack of underlay, and breaking of shingle cladding. Read more.

Internal walls and ceilings

Common problems include walls that are out of square, cracked plaster ceilings, draughts, and the need to incorporate new insulation and linings. Read more


Common issues include the need replace old wiring, damaged drains, and the need to deal with low water pressure. Read more.


Common problems include cracked walls, rising damp, and failing mortar making chimneys or other structures unstable. Read more.