Growing up, my family always went big for Christmas Eve.

My parents would throw a huge family party. We would gather around the fireplace, and the adults would pretend they heard someone on the rooftop. We would hurriedly run outside to look, and then come back to see Santa sitting by the tree.


This time of year always brings me back to those memories. Thinking of Santa up on the rooftop also makes me wonder: Just how safe would it be for someone to be up there? According to the National Roofing Contractors Association, roofing can last anywhere from 15 to 100 years, depending on a number of factors. Some of the most common roofing — asphalt and wood shingles and shakes — last from 15 to 30 years. When thinking about the safety of your own rooftop, consider some of these factors:

The condition

Look at the shingles to see if they are curling. Do the gutters have granules in them? Once shingles start to wear, they will shed into the gutters, leaving granules that look like sand. Another question you should ask is how long have you had the roof and how long is the warranty? Look for water spots on your ceilings as well, which will tell you if you may have a leak.

The fix

If your roof is young and the problem is small, you can probably repair, rather than replace. Repairing can be as small as patching the damaged areas. However, you will want to consult a contractor to ensure this will make the most sense. You can also replace damaged shingles. Keep in mind that this repair is mainly for shingles that are physically damaged by an event rather than shingles that are deteriorating due to age.

The layers


If you have re-roofed in the past, did you add a layer to the existing roof? If so, you will need to remove the two layers and start fresh. Stripping the existing roof before replacing will be a higher cost up-front than adding a layer on top. However, it will also be a more cost-effective solution that will last longer than layering in the long run.

The roofers

The material you choose will no doubt affect the durability and longevity of your room, but so will the people who install it. Ask around for recommendations from neighbors, trusted contractors, and even just flipping through the pages right here, in Hawaii Renovation. Create a list of names and start calling. Ask for availability first, then ask for names and addresses of references. Check out their work in-person, and call the references.

Email Joanne at the fixisin@