Question: I live in a rented town-house, and I would like to install lights in my backyard and along my walkway. However, as a renter, I want something that would not be permanent so that I could take it with me when I move.
Answer: StemTech manufactures a product called "walklites". These are solar panel lights that work automatically. I happen to have a couple of them, and find them most satisfactory.
The installation is simple. All you have to do is attach the light to a stake that is provided in the kit and turn it on. The sunlight regenerates the battery daily and then the lights come on automatically at night for about four to eight hours.
They are excellent in areas where you have a path that you wish to light up in the evening, or for decorative lighting in a garden area or by your pool.
The lights come in two sizes. The six-inch lights retail for $45 and the 12-inch lights sell for $69. The guarantee shows a local firm for needed repairs. You can obtain further information by writing StemTech at P.O. Box 37, Floyd Knobs, Ind. 47119. The telephone number is 812/923-5718.
Q: I notice that the number of building permits filed in California for new homes has decreased substantially since the first of the year. Why is this so when the demand is so high?
A: There are probably two very good explanations. The more important one is that since Jan. 1 local building authorities have been allowed to tax new building permits up to $1.50 a square foot on residential construction for school programs.
I believe this probably had led many larger builders to get their permits approved prior to Jan. 1.
The slight increase in interest rates since January has had an effect also.
Fontaine is president of the Western Regional Master Builders Assn. and a director of the American Building Contractors Assn. He will answer questions concerning home improvements. Phone 213/653-4084 or write him at 6404 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 850, Los Angeles 90048-5510.