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'Sandwich generation': How this family built an ADU for aging parents in their yard

Chantal Allam, The News & Observer on

Published in Home and Consumer News

RALEIGH, North Carolina — It’s Friday night. Sara and Lee Stein are leaving their home to meet her mother and stepfather, Abby and Bob Millhauser, for an early dinner.

From their front door, they walk 42 steps to reach her parents’ brand-new, 940-square-foot accessory dwelling unit (ADU). It’s even less (14 steps) if they leave from the garage.

Technically, the Millhausers live in their daughter’s side yard. For most, it’d be a nonstarter. Even for those on good terms with their parents or in-laws.

Not the Steins.

Back in Los Angeles, where they’d resided for decades before moving to the North Carolina in 2021, they lived “three to four times” closer to their neighbors.

“Our houses were so close together we could hear our neighbors flush their toilets,” quipped Lee Stein, 61, a senior sales executive.

 

By comparison, their 1.48-acre manicured lot in unincorporated Raleigh — about a 20-minute drive from the city’s downtown — is like living on a family compound in the countryside. He’s even got his own music room to which he can retreat.

“I’ve gone days sometimes without seeing [my in-laws],” he said, smiling.

This month, their 24-year-old son, Noah, graduates from college and moves back home. They’ve also got a daughter, Maggie, 19.

“There’s going to be three generations on this property,” said Sara Stein, 59, a brand consultant. “When the kids are back, they can go have lunch or drop by the grandparents. They never had that when we were in L.A.”

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