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”.

LISTEN: Rosie Batty on her domestic violence campaigning. Post continues after audio.

“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.

Women share their experience of domestic violence and violence online.

thousand girls project

Thank you - just by clicking on this and other content on Mamamia, you are helping to fund education for some of the world’s most disadvantaged girls.

Together with our commercial clients and charity partner Room to Read, Mamamia's goal is to be funding 1,000 girls in school each and every day, by June 2020.

Learn more here about our ongoing mission to make the world a better place for women and girls.

00:00 / ???