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Cara Brookins Story: The Single Mom of 4 who built their own house!

When she escaped an abusive marriage, Cara Brookins didn't have enough money to buy her four kids the sort of house they needed. So, she went on YouTube and learned how to build one from scratch.

If you’re thinking I built a house because I’m some kind of natural born doer, some non-procrastinator, some anomaly who has never played a time-waster on my cell phone, think again. I have put off calls, ignored emails, and skipped laundry for a weekend Netflix binge just as often as the next person. And it wasn’t until I was in a horrible place as a single mother of four that I even recognized how badly I needed to do something big. Something that would forever change the trajectory of my life. BUT something was holding me back.

I felt stuck—even though I knew I was capable of doing so much more. I was ready to do something bold.

I was ready to stop being the type of person who says, “I’ll do this someday,” and become the person who says, “I’ll do this now.” I was determined to set my default mode to: Take Action. But first I had to get myself unstuck.

Then I had the idea that changed everything. It was big—REALLY BIG.

I decided to stop waiting for things to get better. To instead just immediately take action when any idea for improving my life popped into my head. And the next idea I had? It was that my four kids and I would build a house. Why? Because we needed one and didn’t have the money to buy one we’d be proud of.  The fact that we didn’t know how to build a house—that didn’t slow me down at all.

Within days of this idea, I bought an acre of land and secured a construction loan to buy all the supplies. My kids were 17, 15, 11, & 2. (Hope, Drew, Jada, and little Roman) And they were all in. After years of feeling like they had no control, they jumped at the opportunity to literally build themselves a better life.  This was the fall of 2007, so YouTube was brand new, and we hadn’t even heard of smart phones yet. The kids and I watched videos on our home computer. How to set a foundation block. How to pour a slab. How to frame a wall and a window. How to do plumbing. How to run gas lines—without blowing anyone up.

We gave ourselves permission to fail...until we figured it out.

With only 9 months to finish the entire house—while I was working full time as a computer programmer and the kids were in school—we didn’t have time to research and practice each step to perfection. We knew how to cut a board and hammer a nail, and all the details would became on-site trial and error. One search at a time, we learned how to build a house. And one laugh, one dance through knee-deep concrete, one “pass me that 2x4” at a time, we began to rebuild our family.

Every day, my kids and I wake up surrounded by proof that our minds and our bodies can do incredible things.




Cara Brookins built her own 3,500 square foot house by using YouTube tutorials. After surviving domestic violence, she was faced with the stark challenge of providing for her four children, with no one to turn to but herself. In desperate need of a home—but without the means to buy one—she did something incredible. She built one from scratch, while rebuilding her family. Cara's story went viral in more than 75 countries and has been viewed more than two billion times. Soon to be a major motion picture, Rise.

Cara’s strategies inspire extraordinary goals, and she delivers the motivation to reach them.


If you were inspired by Wild and Eat, Pray, Love, you’ll love this extraordinary true story of a woman taking the greatest risk of her life in order to heal from the unthinkable.

After escaping an abusive marriage, Cara Brookins had four children to provide for and no one to turn to but herself. In desperate need of a home but without the means to buy one, she did something incredible.

Equipped only with YouTube instructional videos, a small bank loan and a mile-wide stubborn streak, Cara built her own house from the foundation up with a work crew made up of her four children.

It would be the hardest thing she had ever done. With no experience nailing together anything bigger than a bookshelf, she and her kids poured concrete, framed the walls and laid bricks for their two story, five bedroom house. She had convinced herself that if they could build a house, they could rebuild their broken family.

This must-read memoir traces one family’s rise from battered victims to stronger, better versions of themselves, all through one extraordinary do-it-yourself project.



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