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Dear Dale:

Friendly Neighbor Is a Good Resource

August 09, 1987|DALE BALDWIN

Question: I am in search of an interior painter who is good, reasonable in price, bonded and dependable. I have had one painter come in to give me an estimate on redoing my condominium. I think he's probably reliable, but I have no way of knowing whether his price is in line. Do you recommend people for this kind of work, or where can I go to get a recommendation for a painter?

Answer: One of the best sources for finding a painter with the qualifications you mention is to check with other tenants in your building or your condo association manager. Surely other tenants have had their condos painted and are satisfied with the work. It might be a good idea to make questions such as this a part of your association's services. Not only can you discover what service people do satisfactory jobs--but workers who do inferior work can also be a part of the reporting procedure.

Another good source is your local paint store. Many people who buy paint are in need of someone to do the work, and retail paint (or any other product) stores would be very reluctant to recommend someone who has not proved to do quality work through the years.

If you're really interested in finding a "pro," you might ask the Los Angeles Painting and Decorating Contractors Assn., 1106 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles 90041. This is an organization representing union contractors, and Joe McManus, the executive director, says they will be happy to make referrals.

Q: I have been using automatic timers on table lamps in my house for at least 10 years. I don't like for it to appear that no one is at home or--even if I'm home, I like for other rooms in the house to appear occupied. The problem is that I haven't had very good luck with these timers that plug into wall sockets. Does anyone make a wall switch that can be programmed to automatically turn on and off lights?

A: Yes. You shouldn't have any trouble finding a wall switch timer. Intermatic Inc., one of the biggies in electrical switches, dimmers, whatever, makes a timer wall switch called the Night Sentry. It sells for about $30 for the single switch, but is also available for a double switch. The single switch is small, only about 2x3 inches and fits snugly against the wall.

Most major home centers stock Intermatic products. If one near you doesn't, try another.

Q: Please settle an argument. If you're only out of a room for 10 or 15 minutes, does it pay to turn out the light? I've heard it costs more to turn lights on and off unnecessarily.

A: A study at the Center for Energy and Mineral Resources at Texas A & M University says it pays to turn off the lights when you leave a room for more than three minutes. This illuminating fact was included in "Rodale's Book of Hints, Tips & Everyday Wisdom," published by Rodale Press in 1985.

Answer to H.A.B., who wrote to Georgia-Pacific about Fiber-Classic entry doors. Deborah Sullivan assures us that she personally answered all inquiries, so perhaps your request was lost in transit. Whatever the reason, brochures have now been mailed to you. In answer to your question, there is no distributor in San Marino or Hawaii. To see the doors, you must visit the showroom at 10385 San Sevaine Way in Mira Loma. The mailing address is P.O. Box 765, Mira Loma, Calif. 91752.

Dale Baldwin will answer remodeling questions of general interest on this page. Send your questions to Home Improvement, Real Estate Department, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. Baldwin cannot answer questions individually. Snapshots of successful do-it-yourself projects may be submitted but cannot be returned.

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