Anyone who has cleaned out a gutter will not be surprised to find tennis balls and half the leaves off nearby trees there, but the roof cavity can sometimes be a surprise for home owners, as well as the contractor.
By the time someone calls us for a quote to replace or repair their roof, the roof has usually been in place for at least 40 years. This means that there has been plenty of time for people to shove things up through the manhole to use this space for storage. If the person who did this forgets about it, or dies suddenly, these things often remain there until someone comes along and starts lifting up the sheets of roofing iron. Things that I have found include:
- Gas masks and a rifle dating back to WWII
- Old photos and paintings
- A gramophone and a box of the thick heavy records that were played on these machines
- Suitcases that were filled with personal possessions, like old toys or clothes
- Boxes of old newspapers
- Gardening tools. This has always puzzled me why you would put them up in the ceiling - maybe the garden shed wasn't secure and someone didn't trust their neighbours to leave them alone?
- Carpentry tools that must have been there by the tradesmen who built the house, because these are left in random places, and not near the manhole.
- Six of the old-style XXXX beer bottles that were still wrapped in newspaper from the 1960s and had never been opened.
Finding young trees and fern gardens growing out of gutters is nothing unusual and recently I found a staghorn growing out of a piece of rotten fascia.
I suppose the most surprising thing that I ever found in a gutter was a full set of sockets. They were still in their plastic box, which had greatly deteriorated and the sockets were rusted through, so they must have been there for years.