A determined single mother who courageously raised four children on her own has achieved an extraordinary feat. She had endured an abusive relationship that was taking a toll on the entire family. Fed up with the situation, she made the decision to create a safer environment for her children.
Saving up enough money, she took on the remarkable challenge of building a 3500-square-foot house without any assistance from contractors. Despite lacking prior building experience, she relied on countless YouTube tutorials to guide her through the process.
"We Lost The Ability To Laugh Together"
Identifying abuse is not always easy. From an outsider's perspective, abusive relationships may not appear as dangerous as they truly are behind closed doors. Emotions further complicate matters, especially when children are involved. Many people hold on for an extended period, hoping against hope for improvement or a change in their abuser.
For Cara Brookin, enough was finally enough. She set her mind on devising a plan to save herself and her four children, named Hope, Drew, Jada, and Roman, from the clutches of their abuser. "We lost the ability to laugh together," she shared in a 2017 interview with TODAY Home. "We had spent so long being beaten down."
During a Thanksgiving trip to the Ozark Mountains in 2007, while driving her kids, they came across a house that had been ravaged by a recent tornado. All that remained were the bare foundations. This sight sparked a remarkable idea in Cara's mind, prompting her to halt the car and inspect the scene up close.
"I stopped and got out to look at it and could see inside the walls," she said. "I thought, 'I bet I could put this back up if I really tried.'"
Single Mother And Her Kids Built A House From Scratch
After discussing the plan with her children, they wholeheartedly embraced the idea. Cara proceeded to secure a home loan of $150,000 from the bank to purchase the necessary building materials. It's important to note that none of them had professional contractor training, and their knowledge of building houses was acquired through trial and error, mainly from watching YouTube tutorials.
Under the terms of the loan, they were given a tight deadline of nine months to complete the project. With limited funds, the single mother and her children had to handle all the construction work themselves, as hiring professionals was financially out of reach. However, they did receive assistance from a local firefighter, who lent a hand for $25 per hour.
"We knew it was going to be hard," she shared. "But we had no idea of the scale."
This incredible undertaking took place in 2008, a time when YouTube had a more limited range of resources available. Adding to the challenge, they didn't have smartphones to conveniently access the tutorial videos on the go. Instead, they had to rely on their memory, often sitting back and trying to recall the instructions from the tutorial videos. As one can imagine, there was a fair amount of backtracking and reviewing involved in the process.
"YouTube in 2008 was unorganized. They were mostly amateur videos," she said adding "There was a lot of 'Do you remember how to…?' the next day."
3500-Square-Foot House Built By Single Mother
In their minds, the building phase appeared significantly simpler. However, once they began the actual work, they quickly realized the enormity of the project they had undertaken and how ill-prepared they were for it.
"We were so weak then, we were carrying around these blocks and slugging through mud," she confessed. "We didn't have proper work boots so we put plastic bags on our feet with old tennis shoes – we were completely unprepared."
The final outcome is truly remarkable considering they were novice builders. They christened their newfound abode "Inkwell Manor," a fitting name. This remarkable dwelling boasts five bedrooms, providing each child and the single mother with their own personal space. The front entrance features an impressive set of steps leading to the lush front lawn.
To minimize morning conflicts, they wisely incorporated three and a half bathrooms. Moreover, they thoughtfully included a spacious garage capable of accommodating three cars.
"We overbuilt a lot, making sure everything was done in the most sturdy way. I was also very aware of being energy efficient," she explained. "My goal was to have a house that was very inexpensive to live in."