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Building a Cheap Starter Home.
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Tip Building a Cheap Starter Home.
#1
This is a Work in Progress. It will be updated as information comes available.


Over the years we have had many members ask about building Cheap Starter homes.
Depending on what you want from your first home is important. Is this a home your Sim plans to live in for a long time? Are they going to raise a family in this home? Or is it just a stepping stone to a grander home once they can afford it?
It can be a challenge to come up with something atheistically pleasing while staying under the small budget that you are given.

Budget
A Sims starting budget depends on how many Sims the household has.
  • First Young Adult and older = §16500
  • Additional Young Adult and older + §2000
  • Additional Teen/Child + §1000
  • Additional Toddler + §500
  • Additional Cat/Dog + §250
  • Additional Horse + §1000

So if I were to start with a Couple, one child, a cat and dog I would have §20000 to build my home with.

There are 3 different ways you can build your starter home.
A. Straight from edit town: Before even making/selecting your Sims you can build your home from the edit town menu.
B. From build menu: If you have made/selected your Sims, you can purchase a empty lot and then enter the build menu and start building your home.
C. With a Builder Sim: Move your pre made Builder Sim onto the lot and then enter the build menu and start building your home.

I prefer to use method C for a few reasons. The first 2 can also be done using method B.
Play testing: As you build you can enter play mode and try out the things you have just done. Make sure there are no routing issues. You will be surprised at what YOU think is easily accessible and what YOUR SIM thinks is easily accessible.
Pictures: If you are sharing your home with others it is so much nicer taking screenshots with the in game camera from live mode than snapshots from build mode.
Depreciation: Almost all objects depreciate the moment you click out of 'Buy Mode' and then each day they depreciate 10 percent of the value until it bottoms out at 40 percent the original value. Things that do not depreciate are walls, floors, fences and doors. I have been shocked many times to think I have used up all my budget, then go in and play test my lot for a few Sim days to find when I go back into build/buy mode my home has reduced drastically in price! This allows me to add more into my starter home.
Handiness Skill: Because of his high Handiness Skill my builder Sim is entitled to a nice discount when using anything from the build menu. He can also go around and upgrade items for me.

idea What is a builder Sim you may ask? This is a Sim you make, max their Handiness Skill to 10 and give them plenty of simoleons. You then save the Sim to your Sim bin ready to be used to build your home with. You can also have a Builder (or test) Sim maxed in cooking, gardening and painting, but that is not necessary. Once you have finished your starter home, you evict your Builder Sim and now you have a great, upgraded and depreciated starter home for your new Family to live in or to share with the rest of the Simming community!
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#2
Part One: Building
  • Lot Size: Chose the smallest lot size you can find, you can even place you own lot from the world editor menu. The smaller the size and less desirable the location, the cheaper the lot.
  • Floor plan: Always go small. More walls = more money. They're expensive, and you have to cover them. Make sure to allow for enough room to move freely around your home though. Ideally passage ways should be at least 2 tiles wide, double bedrooms need to be at least 4x4 and so on. But if they outgrow the house, they can always add on later. This is probably the biggest money-saver for starters.
    Open layouts work nicely for starters. Just use natural transitioning and create "areas" instead (ie. the kitchen opens onto the living room, instead of being its own little room.)
  • Foundation: A 1x1 foundation says it costs §4, in reality it costs §44 for their are 8 pieces of §5 wall covering on it (4 on the outside 4 on the inside)
    Whether you are going to use a basement or not, hollow out the middle of your foundation floors. You really only need foundation around the outer edge of your home so your walls aren't floating in outer space. When you use ctrl with the foundation tool, it erases foundation. If the area is still closed in with a border of foundation, you usually are left with a floating floor grid. If the tile grid "disappears," start from the outside and work your way in. Each new row of floor will add the grid for the row after it. Soon, the whole room is covered.
    Deleting the foundation has a second advantage. You can create little sunken areas with a set of stairs. Kind of a fun design twist that's cheap.
    Another alternative to using a foundation is to use the platform tool. This will give you the look of a low foundation but at a much lower cost. Platforms do not require stairs to access them either, saving you more money!
  • Walls: Walls are §70 each piece so be careful about where they go. And since you only get partial value back when you knock a wall down, try not to make unnecessary revisions of the walls if possible. If you have to change something, its better to hit the "back" button, and go back to the point you messed up.
    Diagonal walls can be a little awkward, but because they are wider than regular walls, you get more area for your money.
  • Wall Coverings: First thing you should always do is recover your foundation walls (if using a foundation) in a cheaper wall covering. The one it comes with is §5 there are cheaper ones and they can be recast to look almost identical to the original foundation wall if you please.
    The cheapest wall covering is the Fully Framed Wall with Rivets costing §0, next cheapest and most viable in my opinion is the Pool Wall costing §3.
    If you use mods you can unlock another 2 free walls here. These walls are already in your game but for some reason EA chose to hide them from the catalog.

    Fully Framed Wall with Rivets - Pool Wall - Brick Stretcher Bond Wall - Brick Stretcher Bond Wall with Decorative Brick Crown and Brick Wainscot
    [Image: 2lw9ksp.jpg]

    Texture on the walls.
    [Image: 25r1d3p.jpg]

    Recast
    [Image: 91grh2.jpg]

    These are some other ways you can recast the pool wall to look like many different styles.
    [Image: 2j5melz.jpg]

  • Floors: The cheapest floor covering is the Short, Medium-Length Planks with Pegs §0. The next cheapest is the Simple Flooring and if you have Late Night, Stile Quad both costing §4. You can also use the Flat Roof as flooring, this is also free but is not CASTable.
    Don't waste money on flooring for foundations, they can be cast to look like the rest of your floors at no cost.
    Don't waste money on floor tiles outside. Use the terrain paints, they are free and give you more freedom in styling your paths and patios.

    Short, Medium-Length Planks with Pegs - Simple Flooring - Stile Quad - Flat Roof
    [Image: 24xm979.jpg]

    Recast of the two §4 flooring's
    [Image: nlefd2.jpg]

    Recast of the Short, Medium-Length Planks with Pegs, as you can see darker colors and busier patterns work best.
    [Image: fjdzs1.jpg]

  • Windows: While providing beautiful daylight to your Sim's home, they are a complete money sink. The cheapest 'regular' window in base game is §75, and if you are putting in 3-5 windows per room that's §225 - §375 a room out of your starting money. That can buy you some very valuable objects. Place one window per room in the beginning, then add more later as your money increases.
  • Doors: Buy the cheapest doors you can and use CAST them how you want. Upgrade the look of your doors later when you have more money.
  • Roof:
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#3
Part Two: Furnishing

Things your Sim needs: Fridge, Oven, 1 sink, 1 counter (if using a sink that needs a counter you will need 2 counters) Shower or Bathtub, Toilet, Bed, Lights and somewhere to sit.
That is all they NEED to survive.
  • Kitchen stuff: The cheap fridge and stove can cause a bad moodlet. You can avoid the bad moodlet from the fridge by not eating leftovers from it. If you are really short on money, you can even postpone buying a stove and counters. Sims can have snacks, you need just a fridge for that. A microwave is another alternative to buying a oven in the beginning. If you upgrade your oven to fireproof you can also save money on not needing a smoke detector.
  • Bathroom Stuff: Buy the cheapest pluming fixtures you can. You do not need both a shower and bathtub, one or the other will suffice though a bathtub is probably a better option. If you are playing with pets in your household you will need a bathtub to bathe your pet. Pets can not use a shower. Cheap showers can give your Sim the Cold Shower bad moodlet while cheap bathtubs do not. You can also buy Bubble Bath and a Rubber Duck for your bath tub later on, both providing your Sims with buffs when used.
    You do not need a sink in the bathroom either. Your Sim can wash their hands in the kitchen sink. Cheap plumbing can be upgraded to unbreakable so that you do not have to worry about the cost of repairing them in the future.
  • Bed: Buy your Sim a good bed. Seriously, this should be the main investment for now. Your Sims' life will be very busy at the beginning, there is so much to do (mastering the skills, befriending other Sims, probably doing some jobs for the neighbors in order to earn money and reputation) - poor Sims can't afford to sleep a lot, so giving them an expensive bed that allows them to gain energy faster is highly recommended.
  • Seating: Try to have at least one seat per Sim in your family. Sims do not need to sit at a table to eat, they can sit on a chair or sofa to eat their meal. If you are really tight on money you don't even need chairs! They can actually sit and eat on the toilet and bath.
  • Lighting: Your Sim will get a bad moodlet if there are no lights in the room they are in. Ceiling lights are the cheapest and most effective interior lighting. They generally cost less than their floor/wall light counterparts. An even better alternative is the free invisible ceiling lights in the buydebug menu. You can use as many of these as you like at no cost! It is recommended to have one normal light in your home to be able to control the lighting in live mode, but not necessary.
  • Burglar Alarm: Not a necessity, but if your are unlucky like me your Sim will be broken into within the first week! Burglar Alarms are expensive, but the money you will save in the long run on not having to replace stolen items is worth it.
  • Other Furnishings: Once you have covered the necessities, with the money you have left buy the cheapest furniture/fixtures for the rest of your home.
    If I were to pick just one more item to place in my home I would pick a TV. They are expensive but they have multiple uses depending on which one you buy and they are a group activity.
    - Fill their Fun bar.
    - Fill their Social bar if watching with other Sims.
    - Increase their cooking skill and learn new recipes from watching Cookin' Cable. (Must have learned the cooking skill first)
    - Increase their Athletic skill from working out.
    - Increase their Gardening skill from watching Got Garden.
    - Increase their Fishing skill from watching Fishing Fracas. (Must have learned the fishing skill first)
  • Bookshelves and other skill objects: Skills are learned faster in the library anyway, so send your Sim there. Same goes for sport equipment, instruments, etc - if they are available on community lots in your town, you don't need them in your starter home, add them later, when you have the money.
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#4
Part Three: Landscaping
Starter homes can tend to look a little boring for you need to save as much money as possible therefore you skimp on architectural details. A good way to remedy this is with Landscaping. Landscaping can be cheap and gives your home that much needed "Curb Appeal"
Keep in mind that your Sim wont really care what the outside of the home looks like so this is more to please you the player and other players if you are sharing your lots.
  • Terrain paints: A great way to add texture and detail to your yard is with terrain paints, they are free and come in a variety of designs. Play around with blending to give you a natural look.
    - Use the Stones and Pavers to make paths, driveways and patios at no cost.
    - Fill in flower beds with the Flower terrain paint so you don't have to use as many actual plants. I like to use a corresponding color flower paint under flowering shrubs to give the look of fallen petals.
    - In the Misc. section there are some of the best paints, the Weeds terrain paint is a great way to give the look of fallen leaves under trees. There are two Mulches you can use to fill in garden beds so they don't look so bare.
  • Terrain tool: Another way to give your yard some detail at no cost is with the Terrain Tool.
    - Slightly raise the terrain under tree trunks for a more natural look.
    - Make ponds with the Water Tool, this is a great way to fill up large areas of your yard at no cost. Your Sim can fish from your pond and increase their fishing skill.
  • Plants: You don't need to go overboard with plants and I find that small clusters of plants look nicer than huge areas filled with plants. It is cheaper to do it this way too.
    Hydrangeas, hydrangeas, hydrangeas! They cost §1 each and will vary in size each time you place one. Use them, use them a lot! They will quickly fill up your garden beds. Depending on which expansion packs you have they come in a variety of colors too (only the purple and white cost §1 though).
    Shrubs are cheaper than Trees and Flowers are cheaper than Shrubs. Try to use a nice variety of the 3.
  • Rocks:
  • Fencing: Although some fencing may seem cheap at first it quickly becomes very expensive for the simple fact you need to use so much of it. I do not recommend using any fencing when building your starter home. If you want, add fencing once you can afford it.
  • Spawners: In the "buydebug" menu there are a large variety of spawners. Spawners can have great benefits for your Sims and they are free to use. Some players do not like to use spawners on their lots for a few reasons. They consider them a way of cheating and if you are sharing your lot they have been known to multiply during the export/import process. All spawners are already placed throughout your neighborhood so you don't actually NEED them on your lot.
    - Fish: Add a fish spawner in your pond, now you can actually catch fish while fishing from it.
    - Harvestables and Seeds: Grow your own fruits and vegetables saving you money from buying them from the store. Tending your vegetable garden will increase your Gardening skill and then you can sell the harvestables you don't need/use at the grocery store.
    - Rock, Gem and Metals:
    - Insects: Bugs, butterflies and other critters. Butterflies are a nice way to beautify your garden and at night (if you have Showtime installed) they can turn into fireflies! Critters came with the Pets EP and include Reptiles, Birds and Rodents. They can all be caught and either displayed in your home or sold for some extra money.
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#5
Part Four: Decorating
Lastly we come to decorating. We leave this till the end for is is the least important part of building your Starter Home. (though it can be the most fun!)
Depending on what expansions you have installed you will find a variety of deco items to give your home a more lived in look. Some deco will give you the option to View it raising your fun bar very slowly. Depending on how decorated a room is your Sim may get a Well Decorated buff while being in that room.
Deco can be very expensive and adds up quickly. The first deco piece I recommend getting to begin with is a mirror.
  • Mirrors: Can come in very handy. They allow you to change the look of your Sims hair and makeup, increase your Charisma skill and give you a buff from the Gussy Up option. You can find mirrors on community lots so if you are short on cash you can postpone getting one for now.
  • Curtains: Boy do these things cost a pretty penny! Though it may seem wrong to leave your windows uncovered, your Sim wont care in the least thankfully, because these can chew a big hole in your budget real fast. So don't use them, there are more important things to spend your money on.
  • Rugs: You can make your own rugs using flooring at a MUCH cheaper price sometimes even for free depending on how you cast it.
  • Wall hangings: Don't waste money on wall hangings. Get your Sim to make their own by painting and or taking photographs. If you cant find an easel on one of your community lots add some. Send your Sim there to paint until you can afford to buy your own.
  • Indoor Plants:
  • Clutter:
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#6
Thank you to WhiteWitch, ruthless_kk, addict1220, Carl's Sims3 Guide, Kementari, the SimsWiki, Jessa_Dakkar, neoscat

For all their great advise.

If you have any tips/tricks of your own please feel free to share them with us all here Smile

Happy Building!
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#7
Thanks for an advice!
จินตนาการคือบ่อเกิดแห่งปัญญา
Imagination is an origin of Wisdom.Chair
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#8
Well done & very helpful. This will come in handy, when I'm once again starting the Adoptive Challenge, as soon as I have my neighbourhood ready.

Small tip, to add to the seating point. Sims can also sit on the toilett or bathtub for eating. This doesn't look good for a small starter household, but pretty helpful when you are starting the legacy challenge for instance.
[Image: 4fu1hy.jpg]
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