The home buyer should be at the heart of the home-building process, according to Sara Lamia, a consumer advocate and author of "How to Enjoy Building Your Dream Home." Lamia, a Ft. Collins, Colo., resident who contracted with a custom-home builder when she moved to the state eight years ago, said she hopes to build industry awareness about the need for improved customer service and education. Lamia said her own custom-home odyssey was fraught with discovery, surprise and pitfalls, and she hopes home builders, real estate agents and lenders will become better versed at working with buyers throughout the entire home-building process. She likens the creation of a home to the birth of a child. "'Housebirth' is just like childbirth," she said. "Hopefully without the pain." But many home buyers...
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