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ADU or Addition?

ATL ADU CO started in 2017 when Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) became legal in the City of Atlanta.  For the first several years our clients used their ADU as either a rental unit or for their aging parents.  While these are still popular options, there is a growing trend to build ADUs for additional living space.  For example, we currently have eight projects in permitting or construction and five of those ADUs will provide extended living space for the homeowner.  Occasionally they will function as a guest house for visiting friends and family but their main purpose will be as a home office, art studio, or flex space.


Small blue house with white trim

1bd / 1ba RTown+ ADU under construction in Decatur. This ADU will serve as a flex space for young adult children.


This trend likely has a lot to do with macroeconomic housing factors.  For example, 60% of homeowners have an interest rate between 2% and 4%.  We might not see interest rates that low again, which means no one wants to move!  In addition to that, there has been a cultural shift to remote work since the pandemic.  As a result, U.S. homeowners are now 2x more likely to renovate their current home instead of selling. Historically, if you wanted to add livable space, the only option was an addition to your primary home.  But now, detached ADUs provide another option, and for several reasons they are quickly becoming a popular choice.


Small light blue house with green door and white trim.  Cars parked to the left of the house

Studio / 1 ba 'East Lake' ADU that is move in ready in Ormewood Park. This ADU will function as a guest house for visiting family members and work from home space when unoccupied.


The long term advantage that ADUs have over additions is their versatility.  A detached ADU can change with seasons of life, starting as a home office, then operating as a rental unit, and then house aging parents (or kids) down the road.  An addition to your primary home could operate in these ways, but you will share your home or a wall with tenants or extended family.  The beauty of an ADU is it can add extra living space now but function as a completely separate home in the future for family, tenants, a caretaker, or you!  And in parts of the country, you can condoize the lot and sell the ADU separately from the main house. This type of legislation is in the early stages, but it could continue to grow and make its way to Atlanta in the future.


Ariel view of one large home with a smaller detached home in the backyard

With a detached ADU, visiting family, or your home office, are close but not too close. And it could become a rental unit or long term housing for extended family.


The short term advantage that ADUs have over additions is that you don’t have to live through a renovation.  Our client Brad, in Avondale Estates, summed it up well, “When we moved, we downsized, and my wife needed more space for an art room.  So the question was, ‘Do we do an addition or an ADU?’  We did two renovations to our home in Louisville and our experience was people were in the house for months on end.  To avoid the hassles and disruptions of a renovation to the main house, it made sense to do a stand alone ADU.  Compared to in-house renovations it was non-intrusive.”


Small light blue house with royal blue door and white trim

Studio / 1ba 'East Lake' ADU in Avondale Estates. This ADU serves as an art studio for the homeowner, and guest house for visiting family members, and could be a space for a caretaker if need be.


If you need more living space, and don’t want to move, we believe an Accessory Dwelling Unit is worth considering for these reasons and more.  Not only can an ADU serve the evolving needs of your family, it can serve others by providing much needed housing and housing diversity.  Contact us below for a free property analysis and consultative call!



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