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Q&A with ATL ADU Clients Brad & Debby

Updated: Mar 28

Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you lived in Atlanta?

(Brad) I was a professor of biochemistry at the University of Louisville and retired in January of 2023.  Upon retirement we wanted to be closer to our daughter and she wanted to be closer to us, so we moved to Avondale Estates in September of 2022.  Our daughter lives .3 miles away.

The 'East Lake' Studio / 1 bath is 308 sft. This is our first completed 'East Lake' - we currently have two others under construction and one in the COA permitting process.

What led to your decision to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in your backyard?

(Brad) When we moved, we downsized, and Debby needed more space for an art room.  So the question was, ‘Do we do an addition or a tiny house?’  We did two renovations to our home in Louisville and our experience was people were in the house for months on end.  So to avoid the hassles and disruptions of a renovation to the main house, it made sense to do a stand alone tiny house.  And our intent in buying this house was not only downsizing, we wanted an ‘old person friendly’ house, and the ADU could be a space for a caretaker if need be.

We had seen things on TV about tiny houses and there was a tiny house festival in Decatur a couple years ago.  Before coming to Atlanta, while searching for tiny houses, I learned about Microlife Institute and their Cottages on Vaughan project in Clarkston.  I learned about ATL ADU from the Microlife Institute website, which got things in motion.

"The Murphy bed makes the room feel more cozy and provides more storage space."

How was your overall experience with ATL ADU?

(Brad) Compared to in-house renovations it was non-intrusive, so there was stuff going on, but we had our home that we could hide out in.  Even when there were standstills in the project, I was less upset about that because I was delighted it wasn’t going on in our house.

(Debby) It took a little longer than I expected, but I first deluded myself into thinking we were talking weeks instead of months.  But I understood why and once it was done, I was very happy.  We also got to know some of the team, and getting to watch the craft of building was pretty interesting.  The guy who built the patio was an artist, and when they laid the foundation and how they worked it for hours getting the water out, it was a good experience watching it happen.

Debby preferred a mini fridge, however, the standard design allows for a taller, 30" wide refrigerator. And a Washer/Dryer hookup can be installed in lieu of corner shelving in the closet.

How has it been having your own art studio?

(Debby) Now that we’ve put the investment into this, and I have the space, I’m like, “you better get down there and be in the studio”.   And sometimes Brad is listening to music when he’s cooking and I don’t want to hear it, so now I have a place to go.

(Brad) And Debby is enamored with Cat Instagrams that annoy me to no end, so it’s good not to hear those as well. [Everyone laughs...then watches cat instagrams]

(Debby) Once we moved, I rented an art studio in Decatur, but it didn’t work out that well and I didn’t spend much time there.  This, however, is my space and much nicer, and it’s great having it here at our house.  Recently I’ve been in the studio from lunch until dinner most days.

We also plan on this being a guest house and recently had the Murphy bed installed.  It’s tight in our main house, so the ADU is more comfortable for guests.  They have their own space, and can make their own tea, and put things in the refrigerator.  My sister is ready to come for a long time!

"When I started working on more knitting, I just wanted to be in my own house and now I can do that here!"

What would you say to others who are considering building an ADU?

(Debby) Do it.  Everyone would have their own reasons and needs but clearly we’re all for it.  I have a friend who goes and visits her daughter in Pennsylvania and she’s hoping to have one built so she can have her own place when she visits.  We showed it to our neighbor, who is an older man who lives alone in a big house, and he was like, “Wow, this is basically all I would need.  Why am I keeping that house?”

(Brad) And we love how you guys do it all from design, survey, permitting, construction, everything.  For us it was an easy decision.

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If we can help you build an ADU like this, and you're in the Atlanta area, we'd love to chat!

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