I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read this book. It's a manual for how NOT to approach restoring an old house...
Everyone was sure that Gutted would be the perfect book for us to read. The advance press (aka, the talk show circuit) raved about it. Even though I rarely bring new books into the house anymore, I picked up a copy for my late night forays into sleeplessness.
The full title is, Gutted: Down to the Studs in My House, My Marriage, My Entire Life. Good for a few laughs to start, I just became more and more horrified as I read along. It's a true story and I do believe there are a few people who could approach an old house like this and survive.
But not many.
I found myself biting my tongue and wanting to cry out at 3 a.m.: "STOP! Don't DO that!" But they WOULD do it (whether it was knocking out a stairway without any knowledge or exact plan on how to rebuild, or pulling out a heating system and not knowing how they were going to replace it.)
This book read like "The Book of NO!" to someone like me who likes to plan and plan and research and plan some more. I admire their courage and spunk, I admire that their marriage survived this**, but I give their approach a failing grade.
The author is very revealing about the emotions and craziness of their old house renovation. However, they contributed so MUCH to the craziness! It does not have to be this way. Even with limited resources. They took on too much house, without any skills or learning plan, and very little financial resources to invest in the house. They raided their retirement plan (No! No!), ran up an insane amount of credit card debt, set few priorities and created a situation where they could not live in the house that they were renovating.
If you want to feel better about your OWN restoration, you might want to borrow a copy. If you have never renovated a house before, you could read it and use it as a blueprint for what NOT to do.
It's definitely interesting in that it covers the stress on a relationship that this kind of project can have. But there isn't much advice in here on how to avoid these problems. I don't think that book has been written yet.
I'm still reading it. I may have to revisit this review when I see how it ends....
**Okay. I finished it. My admiration for this couple left town when I realized that both sets of parents bailed them out financially so they could get the house finished (Great reward for bad decision making!) and he had a publisher from a previous book deal. However, that previous book explains a LOT about the final content of THIS book which becomes an apology to his wife and new baby for his FIRST book...a book about how to avoid getting married.