Q&A With ATL ADU CO Client Lindy Settevendemie
Updated: Dec 7, 2022
Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do for a living and how long have you lived in Atlanta?
I grew up in the north Atlanta suburbs, then left for about 12 years after college, and moved back to Atlanta in 2010. My husband Randy and I moved into Reynoldstown in 2013 and we fell in love with the neighborhood. We bought our home in 2014. I’m a public school educator, and Randy does communications work at a state university, so we’re both in public service.
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are still relatively uncommon in Atlanta - so what led to your decision to build an ADU in your backyard?
When we bought this house, right away we were like, ‘what are we going to do with this massive backyard?’ It's a lovely yard, with plenty of room for our pets, fire pit, raised beds and blueberry bushes, but it’s so much space and we’re more urban minded. So when our neighbors down the street started looking into ADUs we thought it was something we could do too.
Why did you decide to work with ATL ADU CO rather than take a DIY approach?
When ATL ADU CO first started in the neighborhood we went and listened to what it was all about. We were really attracted to it because it was an all-in-one thing. We have friends who are happy to figure out contracting or deal with zoning and permits but that’s not our jam. We’re more artsy, less handy, and so we were happy there was little for us to figure out on our own, save the exterior color scheme!
How did you finance the project?
We had some cash to put down, but primarily we refinanced our mortgage to make up the difference. We now have one mortgage that covers both structures on our property.
How was your experience during construction?
It was in lock step, I don’t remember any issues. I was so impressed with the efficiency with which this was built. We started building in July and it was done in October and we thought that was fast but not too fast. There were a couple little issues after it was finished but they came back and corrected them.
How do you utilize your ADU currently?
We host on Airbnb and it has for the most part been great. We were worried about wear and tear and partying but neither has been an issue at all. I strongly believe it’s because it’s in our backyard and people know we’re right there. So we’re very popular with families with small kids, or extended family of our neighbors who are coming to visit, and folks coming to a convention for work or fun, or to see bands play. Some longer term stays we've had are film/tv industry folks or med students on rotation at Grady Hospital. One woman rented it for 3 months during the lockdown just to have it as her office to finish her dissertation. That was great!
How has it been utilizing your ADU as a source of income?
It is a good steady stream of income for us. It’s rented about 300 days a year and the other days we use it for visits from family and friends. When Randy was laid off in October of 2020, he was unemployed for a full calendar year, with just a little freelance work here and there. During that time we didn’t feel as hit by his unemployment because of what was coming in from the ADU.
The goal is to pay off our mortgage quickly and the income from the ADU has enabled us to take some vacations and do some upgrades to our house as well. Down the road we could also live in the ADU and rent our primary house and live mortgage free. And while we don’t have any plans for my parents to stay here, it could be a real option if it needed to be.
What would you say to others who are considering building an ADU?
For us it was such a great investment in this property that we already had. We had this land that wasn’t being used, and with rising taxes, the income has helped us maintain, not a lavish lifestyle, but our lifestyle, even through unemployment. It's even helped us give back to causes we care about, like Neighbor In Need. On top of that, this adds much needed density to the neighborhood and we believe it was an ethical build. We have a strong community here in our neighborhood. We love Atlanta. We don’t want to go anywhere else, and this ADU helps make that possible. It’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made as a couple!