David Epstein, president of the Land Conservancy of New Jersey, approached the Montville Township Committee at their last meeting to request regarding the Hierwater house. He asked to replace the current slate roof, which is in poor condition, with Timberline asphalt shingles instead of slate because asphalt is significantly less expensive than slate.
However, the committee was concerned with replacing a slate roof for asphalt and asked Epstein to research other composite materials that looked like slate.
Epstein added that he’s needs this done quickly; “We’re trying to do this before the winter because (the roof) it’s leaking and deteriorating.”
The committee said that if he could make those materials available to the committee this week, they would have time to review the alternative materials and give Epstein a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at their Oct. 22 meeting.
“We’re offering to do this at our own cost and expense … having to put in slate would be a significant hardship for us,” said Epstein, adding that he had looked for quotes from contractors to redo the roof as a slate roof, but slate roof contractors are limited.
Their two quotes for slate roofs are $47,000 and $55,000. Asphalt would be $15,500
“We’re going to get funding from our foundation partners to do this. They’ve been very clear with us that the maximum that we could expect would be to cover the cost of doing the asphalt roof,” said Epstein, adding that they would “likely have to replace the sheeting underneath the roof” an additional $8,000 and put in two skylights, another additional cost.
Since the house is not designated as historic by the town or county, “we would not qualify for any historic preservation funding.”
“We are as interested as anybody in making this look absolutely as attractive, as energy efficient and as good as we possibly can. We’ve put a tremendous amount of money into the building, more than $400,000 since we moved in, we’ve done an awful amount of improvements to the grounds, we have taken that dilapidated pool and turned it into a beautiful wildflower garden, put in trails, a number of other improvements.”
However, despite the investments Land Conservancy has put in, the township was still concerned with the asphalt roof, given the amount Land Conservancy pays to lease the building, which is $1 per year.
“You’re leasing a building which is not necessarily historic, but it has a look to it. You’re leasing it for $1 a year. In the lease you’re required to maintain that building. I understand that asphalt shingles would be (less costly) but you’re leasing a building that has a slate roof so you’re here asking us to cheapen a building that you’re leasing,” said the committee.
The Land Conservancy of NJ leased the land from the township 12 years ago and the lease is for 25 years with a 25-year renewal, “effectively 50 years” and when asked, Epstein said that the life expectancy of a slate roof is “significantly longer than an asphalt roof.”
One of the projects they did was insulation, geo thermal heating and cooling in the building which came out to about $55,000.
The township added that even if it’s not noticable from a distance, it’s visibly clear that it’s not a slate roof when you get closer to the building, to which Epstein agreed.
The committee then played around with the idea of possibly allowing the asphalt roof during the tenant’s lease but require it be returned with a slate roof at the end of the lease. However some were worried if something were to happen during the 50-year lease, such as “the Land Conservancy folding” there may be no slate roof.
Epstein said that allowing an asphalt roof during the lease and then requiring a slate roof before giving the building back to the town, was “a very reasonable request” because over the lifespan of an asphalt roof, “we can plan to have those funds. Over four months, there’s no way we can get that money.”The discussion was tabled until the next meeting to allow Epstein to look into other non-asphalt composite materials that imitated the look of slate.