Gutted! by Lawrence LaRose

Category: Home Improvement

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...

Our Review

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.

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I read Gutted a week or two ago. In the end I thought he skipped over many of the details that a true renovation nut would want to know. I suppose the real pain of it simply cannot be communicated in writing. Oh well. In many ways I found it consoling to read -- I thought that at least there are SOME people out there having a more difficult time with their projects than we are with ours. On the other hand, we are living in ours the entire time, and we have gutted it almost as much as Mr. Larose did.

Wow! Doing really, really dumb things together ended up strengthening their marriage! How touching.

Of course, this guy originally wrote a book called *The Code: Time-Tested Secrets for Getting What You Want from WomenóWithout Marrying Them!* so I think I'll take his philosophical waxings on married life with just a smidgen of salt.

No, I'm not sarcastic today! Not at all!

I agree with Nick, Lawrence did not give me the details I wanted to hear about renovating and only hinted at the day to day pain that involved HIS house pain and not his JOB-pain. (speaking of pain, aren't many of us glad we don't have architectural review boards!) The details he chose to provide were 'duh- I know what a hip rafter is', 'duh, I know what ripping a board means'.

Nevertheless, I plowed through the book in my solo stint sleeping on the den couch, since my upstairs was still not fit for sleeping. Of course some of his anecdotes were classic, especially with the naysayers and the contractors. I think Larry ought to write another book when he renovates his NEXT house while LIVING in it- you hear that, Larry? Or at least a blog. It wouldn't be as good as this one, for sure, but I would read it.


Oh, almost forgot, you gotta love 'tongue oil' !!!!

I recommend "This Damn House!" as a funny book on renovating. I can't remember who wrote it but she also wrote "1-800-AM-I-NUTS?" I've read "TDH" a couple of times. It's really good for a laugh!

Did I read the same book!? GUTTED was absolutely hilarious, Sedaris like in how he got in a terrible situation and laughed at himself about it. Or did you guys miss the fact that he lost his job just as he was buying the house. the economic downturn and sex role reversals made for a witty and inspiring read. Would i do a house like he did? No, but clearly neither would they. Drastic circumstances made them do it it seems. Anyway, I'd HIGHLY recommend GUTTED to anyone renovating or thinking of getting married. Hell, even those that are married. Classic stuff. I haven't laughed so loud since the early Dave Barry.

I don't know. Gutted was funny in spots and boring in others. It was definitely more about his marriage than the house. And even then, I just didn't like the author. Maybe that afected my feelings about teh story. He seemed kinda pompous. Tons of people have lost their jobs or have the wife working. There's nothing new there. It was just okay. Not really great. I won't be keeping it. I only keep the really good ones.

"Sedaris-like?" I can't say that I agree. I liked Gutted well enough but he is nowhere near David Sedaris' league. Sorry. I did find him somewhat funny in his own way, especially the parts where he took the contracting jobs. Those were the best part of the book and had me laughing about my own experiences with a few contractors.

I wish it had more about the specifics of their own house, it was better on the confession about the toll it took on the marriage. (Though I have to say, can you spell "too much risk"? From the house purchase to the lack of birth control, let's hope he and his wife stick with writing and never run a company together!)


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