After one Arkansas mom and her four children survived years of abuse and terror from her third husband, she finally got up the courage to flee and start a new life with her kids.
However, by the time they fled, she had no money to buy a new house, and her family was broken from all they endured. “My kids and I spent years walking on our tiptoes,” mom Cara Brookins said. “We felt broken, shattered, we were all just in this survival mode. We had all gone so far into ourselves, that we weren’t working as a team anymore. It was very difficult for us to communicate, or even to talk to each other.”
Cara knew her family needed a new start and decided the only way she could give that to them was if she built them a home from scratch since she couldn’t afford to buy a house but had just enough for the materials.
“We had been beaten so far down, that taking some sort of leap of a cliff, there felt like there was a lot less risk of failure. Because we’d already failed so big. What had I got left to lose?” Cara said. “I didn’t know yet how to frame a window or a door, how to snake pipes and wires through a wall or how to draw up blueprints and obtain permits. But I knew my kids, and I knew we needed this,” she wrote in her new book, How a House Built a Family.
With no building experience, 45-year-old Cara began building her house in 2008 by watching hours and hours of tutorials on Youtube and teaching herself everything. In the beginning, everyone who heard about the project thought the idea was insane. “I think they thought I was crazy,” Cara said. “There wasn’t a single person that thought this was a good idea aside from my kids. But to me, at the time, it felt like the only answer.”
Despite her inexperience, Cara started making progress on the house and managed to pass every city building code inspection. “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.”