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At-Risk Mom and Kids Use YouTube to Build 5 Bedroom House

Photo Credit: Cara Brookins

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You do get a sense of it from the video, but I want to confirm that this is no tiny house.

Photo Credit: Cara Brookins

The 3,500 square foot “Inkwell Manor” has five bedrooms and a library and cost about $130k to build from scratch – money that Cara Brookins secured through a construction loan after the sale of another property.

That’s not a  small chunk of change, but it’s much less than she’d have paid to purchase anything close to what they ended up with.

Brookins bought the acre of land just outside Little Rock, Arkansas and all of the supplies to build the house before they started. She told CBS News:

“Once I had bought all these supplies and they were all piled up, there was no way out. There wasn’t enough money to pay anyone to put them together. There was no plan B.”

And, aside from a local firefighter with some construction experience whom Brookins paid $25 an hour to do work when she could afford it, Brookins and her family really did complete almost all of the work themselves.

Photo Credit: Cara Brookins

Brookins told CBS News, “They were all in.”

Photo Credit: Cara Brookins

“My biggest fear was that my teenagers would wake up and say, ‘No, I’m not doing this.’”

Photo Credit: Cara Brookins

“And it never happened.”

Photo Credit: Cara Brookins

“It was the first time they had felt any sort of power, any sort of control over their lives. And they knew how much they needed it.”

Photo Credit: Cara Brookins

The nine-month build started in 2008, and they moved into the house in March of 2009.

This photo is more recent. Note how two-year-old Roman has grown:

Photo Credit: Cara Brookins

Not only does Brookins, a young adult fiction author – that’s why it’s called “Inkwell Manor” – feel like the project helped strengthen and bring her family together, but she feels she also learned a valuable lesson about change:

“Everybody says, ‘If you just take a small step every day, it will get better.’ In my experience, though, it doesn’t. You have to make a big leap. … For us, it was building a house. For somebody else, it could be something totally different. But you need to do something big that changes your perception of yourself.”

And that’s essentially what Brookins espouses in her latest book, a venture into non-fiction called Rise: How a House Built a Family.

Photo Credit: Cara Brookins

Sources: WCNC, CNN, Cara Brookins, Today, CBS News, My Modern Met