A DIY project like no other.

By Sarah Yang
Updated January 13, 2017
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Nowadays, most people turn to YouTube for basic tutorials, from how to roast spaghetti squash or how to do a yoga pose, to how perfect the smokey eye look. Search for any how-to video on YouTube and you’re bound to find at least 10. The site can be a treasure trove of practical information—and one Arkansas mom went the next step... she actually used YouTube videos to build her house from the ground up.

When Cara Brookins escaped her abusive marriage, she desperately needed to find a home for herself and her four children. Instead of looking for a place to live through a realtor or on a real estate listing site, Brookins decided she was going to build a home on her own. In 2008, she bought an acre of land and building supplies with a small bank loan. She couldn’t afford to hire construction help, so she enlisted her children for help. The family turned to YouTube to learn how to do everything from laying the foundation to framing walls. After nine months of tough physical work and determination, they completed the 3,500-square-foot, two-story, five-bedroom house, which they named Inkwell Manor.

“While our toes nearly froze off as we mixed concrete in a wheelbarrow, our back muscles ached from hauling two-by-fours, and we sweated and itched our way through fiberglass insulation—we also rebuilt our broken family,” Brookins wrote on her website.

Brookins, now an author of fiction novels and a motivational speaker, turned this experience into a memoir, Rise: How a House Built a Family, which will be released on January 24th.

cara brookins house

h/t KTHV11, photos by Ashley Murphy