Cara Brookins needed a home big enough for her four children.
So Brookins, who had left her abusive husband and did not have enough money to purchase a house, built one along with her children (ages 17, 15, 11 and 2), aided by how-to YouTube videos.
Brookins tells her story in her new book, “Rise: How a House Built a Family.”
“While our toes nearly froze off as we mixed concrete in a wheelbarrow, our back muscles ached from hauling two-by-fours, and we sweated and itched our way through fiberglass insulation—we also rebuilt our broken family,” Brookins wrote on her website.
Brookins, a computer analyst, took out a loan to purchase the lot and supplies. She and her children poured concrete, framed the wall and laid the bricks for a two-story, 3,500-square-foot, five-bedroom home in Arkansas. They built the home in 2008.
“With just a little bit at a time, we figured out how to lay a foundation block. There was a lot of asking people at Home Depot for help, too,” she told KTHV.
In an interview with CBS, she said, “This was 2008, so YouTube was not then what it is now. There weren’t really comprehensive videos or channels devoted to this sort of thing. But there’s a lot of ways to frame a window or to put a foundation together. So, we would watch three or four videos for each stage of construction and then think, ‘Which one of these is going to work the best for us?’”
It took nine months to build the house.
“It hurt. It was not something that was a great match to us physically, but my kids got up every day and they came out here,” Brookins told CBS News. “I was working all day and they were in school, and we would work into the night sometimes by headlights. It was incredibly intense. There was nobody going to the movies. There were no dates, no hanging out. It was all hands on deck.”
Brookins said she was the victim of domestic abuse from a husband with mental illness and that her children “had been knocked down so many times that they needed something big as badly as I did,” she wrote on her website.
“I’ve learned I can do anything,” said Hope, Brookins’ oldest child.
Brookins’s book, a memoir about escaping domestic violence and building the house, will be released on Jan. 24. She has also written seven novels and hosts the “Raise My Roof” podcast, available on iTunes and Stitcher.