real life

Cara and her kids built their home using nothing but spare tools and YouTube tutorials.

In 2008, US woman Cara Brookins was a single mother of four. She was living with a violent and abusive husband and being stalked by a mentally ill ex.

She wanted big things and had big dreams but felt trapped. So she took her children, a bank loan for some land and began watching YouTube tutorials.

And before long, Brookins’ Big Dreams saw her build a Big Thing and she wasn’t so trapped anymore.

Brookins and her four children built their own house.

Writing on her website, the mother-of-four explained the five of them build a 325 square-metre home from the ground up with their own hands and called the build the “most empowering time”.

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“It would be the hardest thing I had ever done. With no experience nailing together anything bigger than a bookshelf, my kids and I poured concrete, framed the walls and laid bricks for our two story, five bedroom house. I had convinced myself that if my family could build a house, we could rebuild our broken family,” she wrote.

At the time, Brookins’ kids were 17, 15, 11, and 2. Life, she says, had “knocked them down”. But with the help of a little bit of money, a few tools and some videos, they built something together.


“Not just any house,” Brookins explains. “We built a 3500 square foot house with five bedrooms, a three car garage, a huge shop, and a two-story treehouse.”

“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.”

Since the build, Brookins wrote a book called Rise, How a House Built a Family and created her own podcast Raise My Roof – where she interviews experts, activists, and celebrities about things they’ve overcome and what they’re building now.

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