Carl's Sims 3 Guide - Skills, Traits, Careers, Rewards, and Lifetime Wishes for Ambitions and World Adventures

The Sims 3: Building Homes

Guide to Better Houses for Beginners

By Tom Thigpen

Build and Edit in The Sims 3
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The first few days can be a rough time for any new Sim - skilling, struggling for LTHP, and figuring out how to optimally spend that $16,500 wad in your pocket. Naturally, most of those simoleons are going towards your first house, whether it's pre-built or something of your own design. At the start of their journey, new Sims will spend a great deal of time at home - so why not make it an visually pleasing experience? If you're tired of building a big square with objects littered around the edges, or running out of funds when creating your first home, then you're in luck! I'm going to show you the basics on how to design an interesting layout for a single Sim or couple while still having space for important items and staying within your initial budget.

The Essentials for Building a Good House
Sleep. Hunger. Hygiene. Every Sim will always need to worry about these three things (unless your Sim is a mummy!), so every home must include the ability to fulfill these needs. I'll provide a list of essential items here, but I will not be going into detail on many of them, as you can find that information in Carl's Newbie Guide. Build Cheap! It's OK to purchase the cheapest version of these items in the beginning, it's better to have a well-rounded home than just a room with a few top-notch objects; besides, you'll get plenty of money from raises and opportunities soon enough.

  • Sleep: Bed If you have money to spare at the start, feel free to spend it on a better bed. A new bed should be the first item you upgrade once your Sim is more financially stable.

  • Food: Refrigerator, Counter, Oven, Sink, Smoke Detector Have two open counter spaces if you can, so that when you get a food processor you can have one counter where Sims can prepare food able to go in the processor, and one counter to prepare foods that must be done by hand (this space will also be necessary for Sims to place group meals on). Build cheap! Upgrade your fridge and oven after your bed, a food processor is also recommended. Only get a microwave if you're wanting to cook hotdogs, and coffee makers have a poor cost/benefit ratio - but hey, if you gotta have the java, you gotta have the java.

  • Hygiene: Shower or Tub, Toilet, Sink The sink is optional, your Sims can use the sink in the kitchen if they really need to, likewise they can wash dishes in the bathroom sink if the kitchen does not have one. Build cheap! Your Sim is only in the bathroom for 1-3 hours a day tops, much less after the Steel Bladder and Dirt Defiant LTR, so upgrade your bathroom last. Upgrade to a tub or a shower/tub combo and get a ducky and some bubblebath from the supermarket (or find them while fishing) to get the 'bathe until tranquil' option and the 'ducky time' moodlet.

  • The Optionals
    It's possible to train every skill and satisfy needs outside of the home, but it's nice to have the option to do it at your residence if desired. You probably won't be able to afford an object to train every skill, so choose what you buy based on what your early goals are for your Sim.

  • Skills: I usually build a study and pack it full of whatever skill items I think I'll need. Bookcase, Computer, Easel, Chess Set, etc.
  • Entertainment: This can be anything that raises the Fun meter, such as a TV, guitar, or whatever else your Sim is interested in. Getting the Fun meter high before work will increase your Sim's mood and lead to quicker promotions.
  • Space Requirements
    With the exception of the bathroom, I recommend that the smallest you make your rooms is 5x4 tiles. As you can see in the picture below, we're able to fit all essential items plus a few goodies in each 5x4 room. Don't be afraid to make the rooms bigger! Walls, carpets and wallpaper aren't very expensive so feel free to expand the size of these rooms, or even combine two of them together.

    How To Plan Your House Layout
    Let's break down a typical house: In the most basic sense there are two elements - rooms and hallways - and that's all you need for a simple home for your Sims. Pretty easy right? We can even combine rooms to save space and money. For example, your Sim's first home doesn't necessarily need a separate dining room, you can just extend the kitchen and place chairs and a table in it. We can take the concept a step further and include the entertainment area with the kitchen/dining room to create a Great Room feel. Hallways should be at least two tiles wide to avoid pathing conflicts when you have company over.

    Have fun with your home layout, make interesting-shaped rooms and connect them with a two-wide hallway. Your first house could even have as few as four rooms: a bedroom, a bathroom, a study, and a great room. You could condense further but you run the risk have having a house that's merely a cluttered box, so be careful!

    Sample Floor Plans
    Ah, the bread and butter of this building guide. I'll be showing you four very basic homes that include all the essentials and as many extras as possible while still allowing at least $750 left over for skill classes, groceries, object upgrades or whatever else the individual player desires. Build cheap! Every object in these homes is the most basic version, so follow my 'The Essentials' section above when upgrading. All homes are built on a $1,200 lot by a single Sim starting with $16,500. Be sure to keep reading after this section to learn tips on how to save money decorating, create effective lighting, experience a cheaper build mode, and make your house a home through landscaping!

    The Republic - $15,615

    I built this to show the simplicity of the home I described in the 'How To Plan Your Layout' section . Here we have a simple hallway entrance leading to the 5x4 study, the 5x4 bedroom, and the 3x2 bathroom - which also has an entrance from the bedroom. We finish at the combined kitchen/dining room/entertainment room. This is a very basic example of how a simple layout can still provide interest and accommodate a Sim's needs. The rooms are a bit cramped, a Sim would do well to expand on them when funds permit.

    The Summerhouse - $15,154

    This plan is loosely based off of an apartment I used to reside in, which is also where I got the name. The entrance is very open, and almost 'mini-foyer-ish' considering the size of the home. Again we're looking at a large room with a connecting hall that leads to all doored rooms. I opted for a bar-seating setup for dining as opposed to the traditional table and chairs. Little variances can really add to your gaming experience, especially if you've been playing for a long time. The front walkway leads around the side of the house, which could be used for future development of a fenced-in yard when the simoleons start stacking up.

    The Ironwood - $15,694

    The most expensive of the houses I'll be showing you, this is another lot based off an old apartment (and named after it, too!). Immediately upon entry it feels open but at the same time properly sectioned. The wall between the kitchen/dining room and entertainment room is short enough to tie them together, but long enough to provide a distinction between the two areas; following the natural path of that wall is a short hallway that leads to the three closed rooms of the home. The sliding door in the entertainment room promotes travel through the area and is parallel to the large window in the dining room to give distinct and open lighting. The kitchen is a wrap-around style (this was great in real life, I hope my Sims like it too!) which is a more interesting design than a bunch of appliances on a wall. There is decent room for adding more useful, expensive furniture and still plenty of yard space for a BBQ area, pool, garden and more.

    The Cheapskate - $9,660

    If you simply must have as much money left over as possible, this is the lot for you. This is the smallest, cheapest house I could make while still being able to sleep at night. It will satisfy all basic needs and leave plenty of dough left over for a car, upgraded bed, classes, or whatever your Sim's heart desires. There's not a lot of room for expansion with this home, so you'd be better off building it bigger or starting on a new lot once your Sim becomes more financially stable.

    Adding The Finishing Touches
    Here are a few closing tips that can really make a difference in the price and appearance of your new home!

  • Build cheap!: there is nothing wrong with starting small. Would you rather have the best TV (non-WA/HEL) or a chess board, treadmill, weight machine, acoustic guitar, easel, best desktop computer, and best audio system? Do the math. Realistically, if you're getting promotions at work every 2-3 days you'll be able to afford the finer things in no time.
  • Create-a-Style is your friend: Love that $20/tile wooden floor but can only afford the ratty $4/tile carpet? No problem! Place a tile of each and use the Create-a-Style tool to copy the expensive design to the cheap tile, then layer your room with it and enjoy the savings. This won't always work on designs that have more than one color pattern, but with some creativity and browsing through the pattern options you can create that look of elegance. Just because you're starting with cheap furniture doesn't mean you can't have it all match or be part of a theme. I use Create-a-Style on all my floors, walls, furniture and even my Sim's clothing.
  • Interior Lighting: Ceiling lights are the cheapest and most effective interior lighting. They generally cost less than their floor/wall light counterparts and take up zero floor space. Personally, I hate ceiling lights because they still show up in live mode and I accidentally click on them when I'm trying to click on something below the light. I prefer wall lights because they disappear in walls-down mode and are less noticeable in cutaway mode. However, they are more expensive.
  • Windows: While providing beautiful daylight to my Sim's home, they are a complete money sink. The cheapest 'regular' window is $75, and if you're a lighting-savvy guy like me, you're putting in 3-5 windows per room. Following our four-room-minimum guideline, we're looking at 12-20 windows, or $900-1,500, which is 5-9% of your starting money. $900 could buy your starting Sim some very valuable objects. I place one window per room in the beginning, then add more windows later as my simoleons increase. The same premise goes for doors as well; just buy the cheapest doors and use Create-a-Style to color them how you want. Upgrade the look of your doors later when you have more money
  • Build Mode Discount?: I'm not sure on the specifics of this, but if I enter Edit Town mode and choose the Build/Buy option, click on an empty lot and build a house, then return to Edit Town and then choose Build/Buy on the same house - its final price is lower (that's a lot of commas!). Perhaps the game considers the house 'used' like in The Sims 2? Regardless, its a good way to save a few simoleons.
  • Go Green: So many people don't bother to landscape their lots! It's very easy, cheap, and makes a huge difference in appearance; there's even a flower/dirt/stone spraypaint tool that doesn't cost your Sim a penny! Look around your real life neighborhood. Must suburban areas have shrubbery and flowers directly in front of the house and a lawn that continues to the street. Many apartments have a common grounds area with grass and trees. Place one of the tiny, cheap brick fences in front of flowers to make them stand out; use the dirt spraypaint tool and add some dirt, or perhaps bark, under your shrubs and trees for realism. Basic trees only cost around $150, plant a few randomly throughout your lot. It's surprising how much of a difference a little greenery can make!
  • So What's Next?: Once you've built your starter house and are on your way to completing your LTW, I recommend fully upgrading your bedroom, kitchen, and entertainment room - in that order. If your LTW is to max out a career, you'll most likely be able to afford the best bed, best kitchen appliances, and a great TV and couch by the time you reach level 10. So when do we upgrade to a bigger house? In my opinion it's best to upgrade key items in your starter house and save up until you're worth about $60,000 - this will ensure that you can move to a larger home and afford to decorate it with mid-level furniture. You'll get rich quicker than you think; this game throws money at you, so just be a little patient, save up, and read on to my Intermediate Home article to see whats in store!
  • Hopefully this guide has shown you given you a couple new tricks to creating a starter home!
    Thats it for now, have fun and keep building!


    Build and Edit in The Sims 3
    Edit TownEdit LotsHousesHouseholdsBasements/MultistoryGaragesRooms
    PoolsRoofsSlopesStairs/ElevatorsWall CurvingMovingSwitch 'hoods

    Share Tips and FAQs (10)

    Our Sims Forum is the place to go for faster answers to questions and discussions about the game. Use the form below to share your own experiences and provide helpful tips to other readers.

    Torts says...
    This is really helpful! Thanks! My houses used to be out of order and just square boxes! So much better thanks to this. Are those houses on the exchange?
    Could you consider a page about how to shape your house? So people can get interesting tips on how to put the houses together
    4th July 2014 2:30am
    Devon isn't my Name Jr. says...
    I'm such a house building noob. I can decorate, though. This helped with even bigger homes in the process!
    10th July 2014 6:06am
    Susanne says...
    I make a high roof, remove the auto roof option, install a ladder, and lay down some floor tiles. Smack a window in each end and voila, you have a nice attic room for your sims to sleep in.
    2nd August 2017 4:49am
    gothceltgirl says...
    I was wondering about blueprint mode. You don't mention it for Sims 3, only for Sims 4, or so it seems. Is there any way to adjust the blueprints before you click on "realize"? Sometimes getting all the right elements in place creates wonky use of space. If not then I'll just havev to wait until it's built and then knock down walls, move stuff accordingly.
    8th August 2015 7:14pm
    Sophie says...
    No you can just adjust were it is.
    19th November 2015 5:03am
    Sasja Frahm Olesen says...
    I can't get a door to be in the middle of a two-tile wall like you do in "the summerhouse" and "the republic". The door snaps to the left or the right. Help?
    30th October 2017 3:00am
    Playalot says...
    Try using a different door. Some doors are two tiles wide which allows them to look as though they are sitting in the middle like that.
    30th October 2017 4:07pm
    Sasja says...
    I'm talking about the entrance door to the two houses.
    30th October 2017 3:01am
    Babs says...
    How do you make the bar seating setup in the Summerhome plan? I can't figure it out. Do you use a counter island?
    9th September 2017 12:03pm
    Playalot says...
    Yes, just use the island counters where the stools are.
    30th October 2017 4:08pm
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