Q&A with 'Aging In Place' Clients Eva and Cary
Updated: Jan 23
Eva and Cary (L to R)
Tell us about yourself. How long have you lived in Atlanta?
(Eva) I moved to Cabbagetown after grad school when I got a job in downtown Atlanta. I lived in three different houses on Carroll St. and ended up buying a house there. Carrol St. can be loud, and the houses are smaller, so we looked for something more family friendly and found this house in Grant Park. We finished building our ADU in October 2021 and mom (Cary) moved in right away to start helping with our daughter Emeline, who was 3 months old at that time.
(Cary) Prior to moving here, I still lived in Athens in the house that Eva and her brother grew up in. I lived in Atlanta when I was young, but it’s a very different town than it was in the 60’s! Moving back has been a learning curve that has been interesting and challenging, which I've enjoyed.
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are still relatively uncommon in Atlanta - so what led to your decision to build an ADU?
(Eva) We were thinking about having kids while considering childcare and our careers. Mom still lived in a big, 3000 sqft house, and it was getting to be a lot for one person to take care of. So, we had the idea, “What if you move in with us, and hang out with the baby, and I can keep working.” Luckily, she thought that was an ok idea.
Then I started with the broad idea of ‘tiny house’ and did some light googling. From an aging in place perspective, the traditional tiny house with a lofted bedroom was not going to work. I saw that ATL ADU was going to be at a local tiny house festival and things took off from there.
Aging in Place is one of the primary uses of ADUs. Can you explain what that is and how you decided to take that route?
(Cary) Aging in place is the idea of staying in your home (or the home of your choice) as you get older. I have a nursing and healthcare background, so I know a lot about the issues associated with aging in place. I saw so many patients who needed help, but their family was too far away. There's a point where you see an aging person and it’s almost too late to do it, because it’s more than they can handle with all the changes.
So, my plan was to transition early, while I was still in a learning and active place and could make friends. I also knew I had way too much house just for me, and I didn’t want to fall into the trap of being overwhelmed with a house and not having support. I looked into buying a place in Atlanta, but everything was so much more expensive than in Athens that I would have needed a job. I could have downsized in Athens but then I would have that drive and wouldn’t be right here.
With this route, I was able to sell my home, pay for the ADU and have money left over to invest for retirement. I don’t have a mortgage and I’m able to provide free childcare for my granddaughter. And if the time comes, Eva and Chuck can help me when I need it. Plus, now my son lives really close too.
(Eva) It’s been great from our perspective. As we raise Emeline, it’s nice to have someone around who has been through parenting before. I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t like your parents, because you’re in close proximity! She is right here, and we’ve always gotten along really well, so we’re all one big family.
The site's steep grade required piers/columns and a retaining wall
Why did you decide to work with ATL ADU CO rather than take a DIY approach
(Eva) I knew it was going to be outside my realm of expertise…thoroughly! We both work full time, and I had no idea where to begin. We started talking to you guys in 2019 about getting this built, but we saw that we don’t have an ideal work site (steep grade) and we were like, “oh no, this is going to be more expensive”. So we considered doing an addition, like an attached ADU - but that got really really expensive and we didn’t love the person we started working with, but we had really enjoyed ATL ADU.
Once we had considered that other option, that cemented the fact that having someone Like ATL ADU, who would accommodate our site challenges , and work on our behalf to make sure the price is met, was invaluable. It’s really easy to get taken advantage of if you’re out there like, “I have some money, can you build a thing for me?!”
How did you finance the project and what’s it been like going from 3000 sq ft to 450 sq ft?
(Cary) I took out a home equity loan on my house in Athens and it was about a year that I had it because we sold the house and paid it off. As for downsizing, I have four dogs who live here, because I had four dogs in Athens, and they’re still here! Plus before I was in nursing, I was an artist, so I have lots of books and art and tools -- so there’s times it’s a little crazy! The container store has been our friend.
What would you say to others who are considering building an ADU?
(Eva) To anyone considering it, I don’t know if I have a “here is why you should do it”, but I would definitely recommend working with Atlanta ADU Company because it was great. Anyone who asks I always say it’s a great company, it’s a great model, and it’s a great way to do it. Online you’ll see all the flat pack tiny houses, that are more like an IKEA container and don’t feel like a real house. That’s what everyone says when they see this, “Oh, this is like an actual house”, which is probably the best compliment an ADU could receive.
Photo gallery, including the best "review" we've ever received! Interior photos are prior to occupancy.