Building Cheap Houses
By Tom Thigpen
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.
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.
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!