This Arkansas Mother Built a House Using YouTube Tutorials

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I took lukewarm showers for the past six months because I was afraid to touch the water heater, and this Arkansas mother built a house using just YouTube tutorials.

In 2008, Cara Brookins had just escaped a domestic violence situation and had four children to care for. She needed to give them a safe place to live and wanted to repair their family, but she couldn’t afford to buy a house. She knew that some people built their own houses, and that YouTube was full of tutorials for just about everything. So she told her children that they were going to have to build their own house.

Brookins says she had no experience building anything before she started this project. She had a small bank loan, an Internet connection, four kids she could tell to hammer and carry things, and some friendly people at Home Depot who were somehow able to deal with a random woman showing up and saying, “I’ve never built so much as a spice rack, but I need to build a house.”

She basically figured that she couldn’t afford to just buy the house she wanted, but she could buy all the supplies, so she’d buy those and then jus put them together herself. Somehow it worked out. They started from the beginning, going one step at a time. First she figured out how to pour a concrete foundation, so they did that and then said, “OK, now what’s the next step?”

It’s a real house, too, not some tiny hipster shed covered in shiplap that would fall down if you sneezed on it. It has two stories, and  five bedrooms so each person gets their own space. It has a functional kitchen and a big yard, and it’s pretty unbelievable. It might actually be unbelievable, because the home she and her kids dubbed “Inkwell Manor” is an astonishingly nice house. It’s huge, covered in brick, and looks like something from HGTV. How on Earth did she build that herself with just four kids? It’s pretty unbelievable.

Brookins had been a fiction writer before she left with her kids, and she’s turned the house-building experience into a memoir about surviving domestic violence, and how building a house helped put her family back together. Her book is called Rise: How a House Built a Family, and it goes on sale January 24. The countdown to it becoming a big movie starring Elizabeth Banks or somebody starts now. .