Builds home from Scratch
Just a few years ago, Cara Brookins and her four kids felt trapped — powerless to stop the domestic abuse happening around them, prisoners inside their own walls.
You see, for a short time, Brookins was married to a man who she says “descended into full-blown paranoid schizophrenia.” And even after the two were divorced, he continued to come around and frighten her family.
“During that period, I remarried to a man who I thought was strong enough to handle it, ” she told CBS News. “But I was wrong and he turned out to be a very violent man.”
Her children were 17, 15, 11 and 2 at the time. And the last straw for Brookins was not so much a singular incident as it was a painful realization.
“It’s hard to put a finger on a moment, ” she explains. “I think it’s a progressive thing. I’m this extreme optimist. So, I just always thought that, no matter how bad it was, maybe I could make it better. Maybe I can fix this. But eventually, I realized there’s no way that I can ever make this situation better. It was the realization that maybe if the kids and I are out of here, then we have a shot.”
Brookins didn’t have enough money to buy the sort of home that could comfortably house her four kids, but she wanted them to be in a safe place. So, they moved out of the house she shared with her abusive husband and into a tiny home outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. Then, shortly afterward, Brookins had an epiphany.
“I had rented this cabin for a Thanksgiving getaway, ” she tells CBS News. “And driving there, we passed this house that had been ravaged by a tornado. It was this beautiful dream house and it was sort of wide open. You don’t often get the opportunity to see the interior workings of a house, but looking at these 2x4s and these nails, it just looked so simple. I thought, ‘I could put this wall back up if I really tried. Maybe I should just start from scratch.’”
As it turned out, she had just enough money to buy all the construction supplies and an acre of land. So, without looking back, she and her family jumped headlong into the project.
“Once I had bought all these supplies and they were all piled up, there was no way out, ” Brookins explains. “There wasn’t enough money to pay anyone to put them together. There was no plan B.”
Faced with the overwhelming task of constructing a house with their own hands, Brookins and her family turned to an unlikely source: YouTube.