View Full Version : Basics for Beginner House Builders

8th Dec 2011, 6:39 PM
I wrote this help guide because when I was one of the lot moderators I was seeing beginners all making simple mistakes because they just don't know any better yet. These are NOT rules! You can make perfectly lovely lots that don't follow any of these suggestions (and many Featured lots are an example). This is meant to help you understand the basics. Teaching you to crawl before you try to run ;)

A few head-ups:
If you’ve never used Numenor’s AnyGame Starter (http://www.modthesims.info/download.php?t=250555) you *need* to try them out! Here’s why. Any lot you build will REQUIRE all the Expansion Packs that you have installed. REGARDLESS of whether you have used stuff from them or not! If you use his tools instead, they only need the few that you decided to build with. If you have Stuff Packs installed however, they are only required for the lot if you have used items from them. Remember this when you are uploading and mention in your post that you used the BGS/AGS. There are 2 exceptions to this, as far as lots are concerned, UNI is an SP and MG is an EP. UNI didn't change the game engine (like SPs don't) and MG did, making lots require it.

You don’t need to use the 5x5 lots. Those are not for the average normal house. Those are for community lots for people with super computers. To build a nice house you should pick a 2x2, 2x3, or 3x3, or even MAYBE a 3x4. Anything else is far bigger than you need to make a ‘normal family home’. Which, btw, is what we are learning to make. ;)

ALWAYS BUILD ON A PERFECTLY FLAT LOT. Not a lot that you ‘flatten to street level’ after you move in. That’s not perfectly flat. See the tiles on the very edge? They aren’t flat. The reason for building on a flat lot is that this ensures that it can be placed next to other flat lots, and will not deform people's neighborhoods (many people like to use entirely flat terrains, and they'd prefer to keep them that way). The one exception to this rule is if you intend to build a beach lot (they aren’t flat) or if you wanted to build a house on a hill or into a hill. Be conscious of what you are doing, that’s all. To check whether the edges of your lot are really flat, try placing an object (a chair for example) right at the edge: if you can put it down without using the "moveobjects on" cheat, that means everything is fine. To make sure that a newly-placed lot will be flat, you can put down an empty lot, bulldoze it and then put another empty lot in its place. Bulldozing leaves a 100% flat area. Also, you can use a flat neighborhood to begin with: the terrain that comes with the Numenor's Anygame game is 100% flat, for example. Of course all of this will make no sense if what you want to build is a house on a hillside -- but for a standard suburban home, you will not need a slope.

Lastly, please consider giving up using the full stairs (the ones that reach all the way from one floor to the next). Why, you ask? We recommend using modular stairs instead of full ones because they can only be used by one sim at a time, which leads to traffic jams. Also, if you use the modular stairs inside, they will match the ones you used on your porch!

Building the (not a) Box:
Many beginner builders start out building their houses by drawing a box. This is a very simple way to start but it gets you into trouble further down the line. You end up with a blocky house, an uninteresting roof, and have room layout problems when you move inside. I much better way to start a house is to draw boxes for each room. Design it inside out. Draw a box for the kitchen, then a box for the living room, add a small bathroom box, etc. Unless you were really picky about how the boxes lined up you will end up with a house with a very uneven outside. THIS IS GOOD! This makes it easier to make the house interesting from the outside. It makes it possible to have a unique and cool roof. You also know that all your rooms will fit inside your house. Now then, how big do you draw each box?

Room sizes (or, it's a Kitchen, not a Bowling Alley):
This is often the first stumbling blocks builders run across. They don’t have any concept of simscale and that will give you and awkward building EVERYTIME. Yes, its true that there are plenty of gigantic mansions out there, but usually doing those well is NOT a beginner project. Usually the first thing I like to have new builders do is look at the room they are sitting in and try to figure out how many sim tiles the room would be. So, look around you at the room you're in. Unless you've just moved in, it's probably not full of empty spaces with nothing there. Sim rooms should be about the same - plan the room size around the amount of stuff you're going to put in. You don't have to fill up every tile, but there shouldn't be room to go roller skating in the middle of the living room.

With the ability to measure out a real room in sim tiles it is easier to understand the scale. For your convenience, I’ve included ranges used for most ‘normal family homes’ for rooms. These are NOT rules! They are guidelines. They are also not perfect. The numbers I've given are basic and boring squares. It is completely possible to make houses that do not follow any of these sizes at all, but its good to get the basics down first before attempting the mansions or the minilots.

Bathrooms: A half bath (toilet and sink) can be as small as 1x3 with the door in the center. I’ve also seen them without the sink and they've been as small as 1x2! Do keep in mind though, that smaller rooms can create traffic problems, so don’t do too small if its in a house meant for a lot of sims. A nice sized half bath is 2x2. Put the toilet on one wall, the sink on the other, and a plant or table in the dead space. Small, pretty, function, scaled. Full baths (with a tub or shower) can be as small as 2x3. These are especially nice as the upstairs main bath (the one that connects to the hallway or kids rooms). 3x3 also still works especially if you wish to include both a shower and a tub. 3x3 is a nice sized Master bath, and I’ve even seen them as large as 4x4 without looking out of place. If you wish to make it more of a Master ‘spa and retreat’ and include a hot tub you will obviously need more space. ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ counters and sinks take up more space. Making rooms bigger is perfectly fine as long as it has a purpose. If you make the room too large and don’t fill it or break it up into little areas with decorative fences, half walls, or stages, it feels too large and empty. I love using half walls and fences in interesting places. I like using full walls to make my own shower surround with the Uni shower. The half walls with the woodwork in them have popped up more than once to section off the toilet and shower area from a sink in my bathrooms. The ones with glass have done the same. In my less formal bathrooms the plain halfwalls go nicely next to the toilet as well.

Bedroom: This is another room that is often scaled incorrectly. Bedrooms can range between being a tiny 2x3 (not really big enough, not advised) to much larger Master suites. Most kid’s or second bedrooms should be at least 3x3. 4x4 is much more comfortable and that’s the size I typically use for my normal houses. 3x3 is good for a nursery but not usually roomy enough for kids and teens. 4x4 is the smallest possible size for a Master bedroom. That only has enough space for a double bed in the center of the room. 5x6 is nicer, has room for a dresser or a sitting area. I would not suggest anything larger than 6x6 unless it has a specific purpose such as an attached reading nook or sewing area.

Kitchen: Kitchens all depend on what you want to do and the number of counters you want to use. Look at your own kitchen and see how many "tiles" it would be. How many counter spots do you have? If you want to build a larger kitchen and you don't live in a big house, find pics online - unless it's an actual large restaurant kitchen, it's not going to have more than 10 counter spots. Minimally you need one to prepare food on and one to put a sink into, but usually there is more counter space than that. 4 tends to make a nice but small kitchen. This doesn’t include any islands that you plan on using for eating at. These barstool areas can look awkward as well if you have to many. Having between 2 and 4 is just the right number. Any more than four tends to make the area look too long and at that point it would be more efficient to just have a table. Even four is pushing it though in a small kitchen, so take a good hard look at it if you have that many to make sure your kitchen can support it. Most normal kitchens are either a square or a rectangular in shape, depending on the space you have given it in the house. Anywhere between 3x4 and 5x6 is perfectly decent and plenty of space.

Living Room: This one is also hard to judge scale on, so this isn’t hard and fast directions. Here are some suggestions to get you started. 3x3 will get you a small little TV den. 4x4 and you can comfortable include a bookcase or two. 5x5 gets you a TV area and maybe a separate reading area or a chess table. A little larger and you have room for a pool table. 6x6 is probably the biggest you’d want to go at this point. If you start having too much space and you don’t know what to do with it, then shrink the space or divide it into areas or another room entirely. Some of the more decorative fences can be used behind a sofa in the living room to divide the area, or in the kitchen to isolate the table.

Hallways: Actual hallways between rooms really should be at least 2 tiles wide. Sims are notoriously bad about navigation and get stuck easily, especially if they aren’t the only living thing in the house. Walkways between furniture need only be one or two tiles as well.

Window and Door Placement:
Windows and doors are important because they give the house personality. The windows need to be balanced (though not necessarily symmetrical) all along the house. Each side of the house should probably have some windows. It's a good idea to evenly space your windows; I either leave one or two tiles between each of mine. Sometimes I do groupings of two and then a space. Try a couple ways and hopefully something will 'look right' to you.

As for the type and color of window, that will set the tone and style of your house. Fancy classical windows make for richer and more traditional houses. Black windows without much detail lend themselves toward modern houses. Ground floor windows can be floor length, but anything on the next level up should be the shorter half height windows. This is generally a standard practice amongst building codes, so that's why it looks right. If you want to do floor length windows on the upper levels, consider putting the on balconies or finding a little CC window gate.

This is the final thing that can make or break a house. The roof. Never Ever Ever use the Auto-Roof tool. Autoroof = dumb. You = intelligent being. Use your brain. It doesn’t that much to figure out how to make a half decent roof. The autoroof tool just uses some math formulas to figure out how to cover the walls you drew with no consideration if it looks nice at all. As a general rule, your roof should never be taller than 2 additional stories above it, just barely tall enough to have some attic space is ok. If your attic can have an attic, you should make a smaller roof. ;) If you really want to get creative with it look up some of the roof slope cheats and try them out. Some of the shorter fences look nice on the roof line of an old Victorian styled house. It all add visual interest. Too much and its over the top and corny, so everything in moderation, ok? Now that we've got our not-boxes drawn, lets take a look at the inside!
(picture to follow)

Furniture placement:
If there is a bed in a room it’s a bedroom, right? Ok, its basic and everyone knows that, so it’s a good place to start. The room with the fridge and the stove is the kitchen, still with me? Good. Ok, lets get a bit out of our comfort zone now. Where does the tv go? The best answers are ‘living room’, ‘den’, ‘family room’, and ‘rec room’. Ok answers are ‘kitchen’, and ‘bedroom’. Wrong answers include ‘bathroom’. How’d you do? I expect you did well on that one, it was pretty easy. Here’s a harder one. Where do hot tubs go? If you answered ‘the back deck/patio/yard’ good job! Large master baths are also ok as long as they are done correctly. If you answered ‘dining room’ you failed the lesson. ;)

Common furniture for rooms:
Bathrooms: Sink, shower, tub, toilet, countertops, maybe a hot tub, small endtables for plants/deco…
Bedrooms: Bed, dresser, nightstands, mirrors, vanitys, comfy chairs, toy boxes, children’s etc…
Kitchens: Counters, sink, stove, fridge, trashcan, table and chair set, small appliances…
Living rooms: couches, chairs, tv, stereo, bookcases, endtables, coffee tables, piano, maybe a pool table
Dining room: Table and chair set, maybe a dresser acting as a sideboard…
Deck: Patio furniture, hot tub, grill, table and chair set

Things that DO NOT belong in normal family homes:
Bowling alleys, skating rinks, the Electrodance sphere, disco lights, the tiles that change color, other rave/dance equipment etc, indoor basketball courts or soccer fields, two story tall statues, etc. If you are unsure about something, go ask your mom if you can have one for real in your house. If she laughs at you, then no, whatever it is doesn’t belong in a house. ;)

There are plenty of ways of doing this right, and there are just as many ways of doing it wrong. I’m going to give you a few standard ‘right’ ways that you can use until you feel comfortable branching out into more difficult color schemes.

My standard (what I personally use, do not confuse with 'best way' or 'only way') for unfurnished houses is ‘Beachy Keen’ wallpaper with white baseboards and crown moldings for every room. This is good because it is a nice neutral wallpaper. It has a few variations that are useful too, the white beadboard one works well for bathrooms for instance. For flooring, the ‘Seattle’ or that other plain white tile in both the kitchen and the bathrooms, a light wood flooring in the living room, dining room, and hallways, and a beige carpet for all the bedrooms. Simple and no one will object saying it’s too ugly or not their taste. If it’s an unfurnished house the downloader has to furnish it anyways, they tend to re-wallpaper at that point too. I did this in all my Katrina cottages, its standard and simple, but REALLY REALLY DULL.

If you are furnishing your house then you need to pick a color theme. Try going ‘monochromatic’. Big word, I know, but it means ‘one color’, like you can decorate in similar shades of green. When you are picking a color for a room, you should either put that color on the walls or on the floor, but not on both. If the walls are blue, make sure the floor is a natural wood or neutral tile. If you are doing blue carpet, go for beige or white on the walls. Too much color is a bad thing, it really is. Carry your color scheme onto the furniture too, naturals and your color. It will work, I promise.

If you would like you can also try using only warm colors (red, orange, yellow) or only cool colors (green, blue, purple). Still only use color in one place in the room, walls or floors. Another option to try out is the popular ‘modern’ color scheme: white, black, and sometimes gray or a bright color. Another color scheme you can play with that I’ve only recently discovered can work well is ‘complimentary’ colors. Those would be red with green, blue with orange, or purple with yellow. I got the red with green one to work without the house looking like a Christmas tree, its difficult, but possible.

Think about landscaping as just another room. You wouldn't leave the kitchen unfurnished, so do not neglect your outside spaces either. Plopping a tree down in the front yard and two flowers next to the front door is NOT landscaping. Proper landscaping requires some thought, care, and effort. Landscaping also involves terrain paint.

Custom terrain paint is THE WORST EVIL you can do. Ok, maybe not that bad, but it is pretty bad. You can’t use CleanInstaller to remove terrain paint from a lot package. If you try to the lot ends up corrupted and flashes blue in the neighborhood. No one wants that. Unless you absolutely can not get by for a specific reason with just using the Maxis terrain paint, then I would never touch it. Once I learned about that, I stopped using CC terrain paint in my lots.

One of my favorite things to do to make the house look like it belongs on the lawn is take the ‘Sparse and Spotty’ paint and line the outside of my house with it. Most houses don’t have perfect grass growing right up next to the house anyways and it helps to add a bit of a contact shadow where the house meets the grass. If you have trees, try adding a few spots of ‘Park Mulch’ or whatever it was called underneath the tree trunk. If it’s a pine tree and you have the BV paint ‘Pine Needles’ that also looks great. Flowers and shrubs look great with 'Garden Soil' sprayed underneath them. If you have a swingset out back (not on your balcony, remember furniture placement) try adding a bit of ‘Dirt’ directly underneath the swings and fading into the grass a bit in the direction of the swing. All that foot traffic prolly would kill the grass anyways. Another option is take that ‘Park Mulch’ stuff and make a playscape area. There are tons of interesting things you can do with the Maxis terrain paints to make your lots look amazing, and best of all, they are free!
(picture to follow)

Flowers are also bad. They are very high poly, meaning they will lag the game. If you are one of the people who take the flowers, turns move objects on and plunks 4 flowers down in the same square rotated from each other, then please STOP IT. Flowers are ridiculously high poly to begin with; you just multiplied that number by 4. Using a few flower beds is ok; filling the front yard with them is not. Even lining the front walk is questionable. Try using a shrub or two in place of flowers on ends or corners, it looks pretty that way. Using some terrain paint underneath the flowers, shrubs, and trees also makes the landscaping look finished.

Houses need to have a pathway up to the front door. No house is just sitting out on the lawn. Even if it didn’t have a path up to the front there would be a worn-in dirt area right by the door. You can use any number of the terrain paints or floor tiles to make a nice looking front path or one coming off the back porch.

Framing the yard with fences is also not cool. Most fences are pretty high poly and multiple that by 200? Yikes. Putting a fence around your porch is sweet. Putting it on the balcony, great! Around the garden? Adorable! Just please not all the way around the lot unless you have a smallish lot or a real good design reason for doing so. Just think a bit before you do it, and consider using the simpler looking fences if you do decide to frame your lot.

Well, that’s about all I can impart. After that it’s up to you to get creative and make pretty houses. With these basics you can do anything and build on top of it all to make something really usable and pretty. Get to it!

8th Dec 2011, 8:09 PM
If you’ve never used Numenor’s AnyGame Starter (http://www.modthesims.info/download.php?t=250555) you *need* to try them out!However, you should be aware that the AGS will not work with most collection packs. Be sure to read the AGS thread to ensure that your collection is supported.

If you have Stuff Packs installed however, they are only required for the lot if you have used items from them. Remember this when you are uploading and mention in your post that you used the BGS/AGS.There are exceptions to this rule.

If the game engine associated with the Stuff Pack is later than your latest EP, then people will need the Stuff Pack or an EP which has an updated game engine. Here's a list of the game engines (EP) associated with each SP:

As well, Mansion and Gardens has its own game engine. If you use Mansion and Garden, then anyone downloading your lot will require M&G.

8th Dec 2011, 8:39 PM
I knew I was going to miss something. I wrote this almost 3 years ago, and just re-found it and figured it should be posted. I'll update that bit. Thanks! :)

29th Jun 2012, 10:57 AM
I just found this thread and wanted to say thanks. I'm playing the Test of Time challenge and needed some help making buildings that didn't look like a packing crate for the Neanderthal age! Thanks again.

29th Jun 2012, 10:46 PM
Exceptions to the Disco Lights rule checklist:
Answer yes or no for each:
1. Your sim is artistic/creative or a raver.
2. Your sim's room has unusual walls like splatter paint or rainbows or rainbow splatter paint
3. Your sim's room has unusual lighting already such as lava lamps, neon signs, or rainbow lights.
4. Optional: Your sim's floor is bright and unusual.

Since I've checked everything except for raver and unusual floors, I'm planning to get disco lights for my room in real life. The same applies to sims.

29th Jun 2012, 11:19 PM
I'm still going to hold to the 'mom test'. There are always exceptions, and these aren't rules, these are the basics. Once you've mastered doing the basic stuff well of course you can graduate to more complex things like how to tastefully stick a disco ball in a room. Not sure when your #2 and #4 would be allowed in the first place, so that makes your checklist moot. Now, I'm not trying to hate on ravers and disco divas, I was one for many years through high school and most of college, and I still have my strobe light and black lights, but they aren't stuff that belongs in an adult's bedroom, or any other normal rooms. You might have a dance party basement room, and that would be an excellent place to yet your glitter rock out. ;)

6th Sep 2012, 9:28 AM
You are a great desinger!
good job

8th Apr 2013, 4:55 PM
Lastly, please consider giving up using the full stairs (the ones that reach all the way from one floor to the next). Why, you ask? We recommend using modular stairs instead of full ones because they can only be used by one sim at a time, which leads to traffic jams. Also, if you use the modular stairs inside, they will match the ones you used on your porch!

First of all, let me say that I am really new to this way of building and downloading on the Sims 2, so if this comment looks weird, forgive me.

How do you build the modular stairs that you have shown? I can't figure out how to do that. The U-stairs, I mean. If you have a tutorial or you know of one, can you tell me of it? Thank you.

8th Apr 2013, 9:38 PM
You could start with this:

12th Apr 2013, 8:32 PM
You could start with this:

Thank you!!!!

23rd Feb 2015, 4:33 AM
Yes, only people who have everything can use houses that you build. regular SP's are not a huge worry it simply means the item won't show. M&G however works as an EP and if they do not have M&G they risk the lot crashing their game.

AGS is good for making slots without all EP's and is also good for making sure your lots are clean of the Super Duper Hug. If you keep a fix in place such as Boiling Oil's No Sim Loaded and never pull it out you will never be at risk of developing the SDH. The SDH goes invisibly in lot files of anyone who has it active in their game or even if it's been active and they apply the fix. In that way the SDH will spreed to their game via using a lot from someone ease's game. So if you have not put in NSL, do so and keep it in there even if you ever pull your cc and do a 50/50 search. http://www.leefish.nl/mybb/thread-1665.html

Also make sure not to move a sim into any lot you plan to upload, always test a copy so that other people are not getting your sim references. You want to be sure you are giving people lots that are as safe and clean as possible.