Inspiring single mother builds a house; now her story will be a movie

When mother of four, Cara Brookins fled domestic violence with her children, she was determined to put her family back together again.

Starting from scratch

By Abi Harman, Lovemoney

When mother-of-four, Cara Brookins fled domestic violence with her children, she was determined to put her family back together again. Just nine months later, she'd not only built a home from scratch but had also re-built her family. Surprised and delighted at the success of her project, she turned her experience into a best-selling book which is now set to be made into a Hollywood movie.

Big decisions

Not long after their escape in 2008, Cara made the decision to get the whole family working on a project together, which was to be a brand new house for them all to live in. "My kids were 17, 15, 11 and two, and had been knocked down so many times that they needed something big as badly as I did," says Cara.

Dreams on hold

Cara grew up in rural Wisconsin, and always had a love for building things but never had the chance as an adult. "After I grew up and had four kids of my own, I should have built big things but I was in several situations that made me feel smaller than ever, like domestic violence and being stalked by a man with a mental illness, so my goals and my future stayed small too," says Cara.

Gathering supplies

Starting the project by purchasing one acre of land in Northern Arkansas, Cara also sold the property she already owned. She spent the money from the sale of the house on $130,000 (£99.5k) worth of building supplies but soon realized she had nothing left to hire construction workers, so decided to build her new home herself with the help of her children; Roman, Jada, Hope and Drew. 

Extra cash

To gather the last final supplies Cara needed to take out a loan but, as she wasn't a contractor and had no building experience, it proved difficult to find a company that was happy to give her the money. In the end, she agreed to complete the build within nine months or she would default on the loan that she'd managed to get.

Family affair

The whole family pitched in and started watching endless YouTube tutorials on all the different elements of building a house, starting with how to lay a foundation. This was no easy feat, as the group had to hike down a hill to their neighbor's pond in freezing weather for pails of water to mix the mortar by hand in a wheelbarrow.

Learning new skills

Step by step, the family worked as a team to build every element of the house themselves. With no experience of putting anything together, Cara and the children learned how to pour concrete, frame the walls and even lay bricks.

Looking after the little one

Everyone had their own part in helping with the build. The oldest son, Drew, helped to draw the blueprint, Jada hauled the water from the neighbor's pond for the foundation, while Hope cooked for everyone. All the children also had to keep an eye on two-year-old Roman, who loved nothing more than to play around on the construction site.

Needs must

“I didn’t know yet how to frame a window or a door, how to snake pipes and wires through a wall or how to draw up blueprints or obtain permits. But I knew my kids, and I knew we needed this,” Cara wrote in her book, Rise: How a House Built a Family.

Nap time!

So everybody got involved – even two-year-old Roman. Well, sort of.

Help from Home Depot

Of course, a little bit of professional help was needed along the way. As well as watching countless videos online, Cara also sought help from workers at the local Home Depot who provided advice on the different steps of building a house. She eventually also hired a man with experience of building houses and paid him $25 an hour for a helping hand.

Fitting it all in

The family worked for 20 hours most days, fitting the build around jobs and school. “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,” Cara wrote.

Online tutorials

In a time without smartphones, the Brookins spent their evenings watching YouTube videos online and memorizing them for when they were on-site the next day.

Passing with flying colors

Despite the family's lack of experience, the house managed to pass every city building code inspection with flying colors, although the inspectors were surprised when they found out who was doing the building work!

It's time to move in

After nine months of back-breaking work, the brand new home was complete and after getting a certificate of occupancy, the Brookins moved into their new house in March 2009.

Five-bed retreat

Inside, the 3,500-square-foot house is spread over two floors and has five bedrooms. Named Inkwell Manor, it also features a library, three-car garage, workshop and two-story treehouse.

Something for everyone

Each child has a bedroom of their own, and the library caters for Cara's love of books. She also uses the space as an office when writing and discussing her movie with directors and producers.

Handcrafted touches

The handcrafted kitchen is beautifully finished, and homely touches are added to every room. The house is also dotted with artwork, including these framed tiles which are of Leonardo da Vinci's Five Characters in a Comic Scene. 

Homely touches

The entire house is designed to be as homely as possible and features lots of references to the family’s story which, as this wall-art says, “was never about a house”.

The heart of the home

One piece in the house that holds a special place in Cara's heart is the heat barrier behind the woodstove. Made up of different components that mean something to the family, including shells from an ocean trip, stones found in the grounds of Inkwell Manor and fools gold from a nearby river, it also hides a penny for each member of the family from the year they were born.

Extra perks

As well as all this, Inkwell Manor also has plenty of space for relaxing, including this cute reading nook, which has a comfortable seating area and bookshelves that would fit a small collection.

A best-selling book

To share the story of building a house with her children, Cara wrote, Rise: How a House Built a Family. Sold for six figures in an auction to St. Martin's Press, it became a viral story worldwide after it's release in January 2017. 

A big decision

Rise has also been chosen to become a major motion picture, which was a big decision for Cara and her family. "Turning the story of my kids and I building a house into a film... I walked away from the producers three times before I agreed. Once you sell your story you no longer own it. The use of my own name, or my kids and their names, how they are used and how they are portrayed," says Cara in her latest YouTube video. 

Inspiring others

Since the book release, Cara now spends her time inspiring others through Ted Talks. She hopes that the film will do the same. "I decided it was worth it if we could do one thing, and that was to focus on the way that people would feel when they walked out of the theater. Like, if this small unlikely person could stick with it and figure out how to do this thing for her family and build an entire house, then they could do whatever crazy dream they've been putting off."

Working with Hollywood

After talking to a lot of different producers, Cara settled on Escape Artists who have done hundreds of successful films including The Upside with Nicole Kidman, The Equalizer 2 with Denzel Washington and The Back-Up Plan with Jennifer Lopez. More importantly for Cara was their work on The Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith. "That really swayed my decision," explains Cara. 

Working with Kate Angelo

As an author of books, Cara had little experience in movie production so she teamed up with respected Hollywood scriptwriter Kate Angelo, who has worked on TV series Will and Grace. “There were a zillion phone calls and text messages between Kate and I and we have finally finished the script,” says Cara. She also reveals that she used an unpublished fictional draft of her memoir Rise to put together the story arc of the film. 

Writing the script

Writing the script and spending time picking apart her story has been a remarkable experience for Cara. "It's the most surreal and out-of-body thing to replot your own life. It's still holding the truth of the storyline but choosing which parts to highlight and which order to show them in," says Cara.

An A-list actress

Another thing that Cara's excited about is the actress that's going to play her in the film. "We have an A-list, in-the-news-every-single-day major actress who's currently attached to play me. How crazy exciting is that? I can tell you who that is just as soon as the studio announces it," says Cara, talking to her fans on YouTube. We can't wait to find out who the mystery celebrity is!

The silver screen

So what's next for Cara? "We're waiting for any last-minute notes to come back and we're ready to move forward with what will be next; an announcement from the studio and then the actress and a production schedule," says Cara. With her charisma and determination, we're sure the movie is going to be a huge success!


|Featured Content_$type=three$c=3$l=0$m=0$s=hide$rm=0

Made with in NYC

Bills to Pay,40,Bitcoin,1,Companies,4,Cryptocurrency,1,Entrepreneurship,1,Featured,12,Features,12,Home Improvement,2,Insurance,7,Investing,21,Markets,17,Money,3,Personal Finance,196,Real Estate,91,Retirement,20,Save Money,16,Saving and Spending,5,Small Business,188,Startup,1,Taxes,22,Top Stocks,2,
Finance Magazine: Inspiring single mother builds a house; now her story will be a movie
Inspiring single mother builds a house; now her story will be a movie
When mother of four, Cara Brookins fled domestic violence with her children, she was determined to put her family back together again.
Finance Magazine
Loaded All Posts Not found any posts VIEW ALL Read More Reply Cancel reply Delete By Home PAGES POSTS View All RECOMMENDED FOR YOU LABEL ARCHIVE SEARCH ALL POSTS Not found any post match with your request Back Home Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat January February March April May June July August September October November December Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec just now 1 minute ago $$1$$ minutes ago 1 hour ago $$1$$ hours ago Yesterday $$1$$ days ago $$1$$ weeks ago more than 5 weeks ago Followers Follow THIS PREMIUM CONTENT IS LOCKED STEP 1: Share to a social network STEP 2: Click the link on your social network Copy All Code Select All Code All codes were copied to your clipboard Can not copy the codes / texts, please press [CTRL]+[C] (or CMD+C with Mac) to copy