The word bungalow conjures up small, cosy houses with pitched roofs and porches. There are fabulous craftsman bungalows, built from 1900 to 1930, by such architectural luminaries as Frank Lloyd Wright and Gustav Stickley. There are also the factory-made, mail-order bungalows that arrived in a kit from Sears and Montgomery Ward--high-quality, low-cost standardised homes for middle class Americans--highly prized today. One distinctive bungalow characteristic with several interpretations is the slanted roof line.
A gabled roof is the most common roof type in the United States and is a classic bungalow roof design. Gabled roofs are triangular--two sides slope up to meet in a ridge line. The angle of the sides is identical and the slope can be steep or gradual. A steep slope allows faster runoff from rainstorms or snow. However, severe wind storms can lift a gabled roof and damage or rip it off completely, so gabled-roof bungalows are not very common in hurricane-prone areas. Gables can have dormers, which are sections that run diagonal to the roof slope. Dormers create more room inside the top story of the bungalow and allow for windows in the roof.
A hipped roof is another common low-pitched roof found atop bungalows. The hipped roof slopes up from all sides of the building--it does not make an "A" shape like the gable. Hipped roofs often form a pyramid shape as the roof sections meet at a point in the middle. Another style on longer, rectangular bungalows has a short ridge line at the top. A hipped roof wears well in windy regions and the slope allows quick runoff, so they can be a good choice for storm-prone areas. Hipped roofs can have dormers on all four sides and their large eaves can overhang porches that surround the bungalow.
The thatched-roof bungalow hearkens back to the style's beginnings in Bengal, India. In the late 19th century, British officers in colonial India built "Bangla" houses--small vacation homes in the Bengal guest house design. The eventual term "bungalow" is derived from these one-story, tile- or thatched-roof houses with wide verandas set under the roof overhang. Today, thatched bungalows are popular at tropical resorts. The roof shapes are usually hipped but might be gabled. The bungalows are often set on stilts over a tropical lagoon and walls may not reach all the way to the roof. Verandas wrap around the one- or two-room buildings, and the roof overhang shields guests from the intense sun while allowing enough breeze to sway a hammock. Thatched-roof bungalows, on stilts or on land, are still used as permanent homes by some island communities.