Attics may be cramped, dirty and dark, but they are usually the only part of a house unchanged over decades or centuries. Old roof trusses and purlins often have the carpenters location marks chiselled beside the joints - bats occasionally accompany the inspection, and whizz around happily in the torch light.

Attics commonly contain artificial christmas trees, out-of-date lampshades, jigsaw puzzles, spare out-of-date wallpaper, fishing rods, golf clubs, dead birds, wasps nests and unwanted wedding presents!

I once arrived to carry out a survey and dig trial pits at a house, and was encouraged to continue by a relative despite the owner having passed away in the night, and was "awaiting" the undertaker to call!

Among the hazards of surveying have been many wasps nests the size of a beach ball found in attics, thick black cobwebs draped like fishing nets, a warehouse running with rats, smelly stained carpets, weak ceilings etc.

A barn survey with the tenant's still in residency!

Buildings have a remarkable amount of resilience against decay and misuse, for example non-structural elements such as window frames often give additional support after lintels have decayed. But eventually they will have used up all their reserves, and collapse as in the picture above!

In this photograph you can see a decaying barn roof being propped up by a wheel and the remains of a Christmas tree!

In this photograph, a ceiling had begun to collapse, and was being supported on a suitcase on top of a wardrobe!