She was frequently beaten by her husband, so she left the house with her kids.

After the emotional toll of her second abusive marriage, Cara Brookins found solace in an unconventional way—building her own house. Facing financial constraints, she couldn’t afford a suitable home, prompting her to take matters into her own hands. With a $20,000 property and a $150,000 building credit, Brookins turned to YouTube tutorials to learn construction basics.

Over nine months, her four children, aged 2 to 17, became her construction team. They faced challenges, such as 11-year-old Jada transporting water for mixing mortar. Brookins, a computer programmer, worked on the house after her kids were in school and spent late nights at the construction site, guided by YouTube and occasional help from a part-time firefighter.

On March 31, 2009, the family moved into the 3,500-square-foot home, named Inkwell Manor, symbolizing Brookins’ aspiration to become a writer. The unconventional journey helped her battle depression, and she went on to write middle-grade and young adult books. Her biography, “Rise: How a House Built a Family,” was released on January 24, capturing her inspiring story. Brookins encourages others, stating, “You can do anything you set your mind to.”