Forget Barbie’s Dreamhouse

Forget Barbie’s Dreamhouse

Cara Brookins isn’t an engineer. She isn’t an architect. She isn’t a construction worker, either. She’s a single mom with 4 kids, and one day, she decided to build her family a new home. From scratch.

Cara had removed herself and her family from an abusive relationship and needed a way to start over. While on vacation, she saw a house that had been ravaged by a tornado, and there wasn’t much left. When she pulled over to take a closer look, she had a thought.

“I thought, ‘I bet I could put this back up if I really tried,’” Cara told

It was 2008, and Cara turned to a relatively new resource to get started: YouTube. From

“YouTube in 2008 was unorganized,” [Cara] said. “They were mostly amateur videos.” Because the family didn’t have smartphones back then, they couldn’t Google on the job site, so they’d have to watch it the night before.

“There was a lot of ‘Do you remember how to…?’ the next day,” she said.

Her five-person family took in all the expertise they could. Eventually, they laid the foundation, framed the walls, and tiled the floors – all on their own. They got some help with the air conditioning, heating, and electrical to make sure their new home would be safe and energy-efficient.

9 months later, their 5-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom, French country home was complete. It even had a library! They named it Inkwell Manor.

“After we built the house,” Cara told A Plus, “we each came away with the sense that absolutely anything was possible.”

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