The Sims 3 Tutorial: How To Build An Apartment

The Sims 3 Late Night introduced apartments in two forms. Regular residential lots and building shells. Building shells are a little tricky to edit and you do have to be careful editing them because it could cause the game to become stuck when switching between modes, leaving you to end the task for the game in the task manager.

Today, I’m going to cover how to build a regular residential apartment lot. Some cheats that you will need are:
testingcheatsenabled true or false
buydebug on or off
restrictbuildbuyinbuildings true or false

Step 1 – Basics

Place a residential lot down in your neighborhood to the size that you want your apartment to be. Then edit the lot (with no Sim on it) and starting building just as you would a regular lot. You will want to keep in mind when building that you will need a lobby sort of area or just some public area where the callbox and wall mailbox can go on the first floor. You will also need at least one additional door to be an NPC door, though you can have more than one.

Usually how I build my apartments is that I start with three or four floors. The first floor has the lobby area and general areas such as fitness, laundry, or whatever I feel like including with the lot to be used by Sims that live there. If my building has 4 total floors, the second and third floors are usually NPC apartments (which have a small lobby in them as well so you can visit the door and your NPC neighbors) and then the last floor, the fourth, is usually the regular apartment where Sims will live.

Step 2 – Building

Like mentioned above in the basic section, there are things you will want to keep in mind when building. Once you have how many floors you want and a small area for a lobby on each of the floors, you will want to place doors and windows around on all floors (even NPC ones even though you won’t see through them, mainly for a realistic effect). In your livable apartment where Sims can live in, you will want to fully furnish it and make rooms for the bedroom, bathroom, and whatever else you’ll want Sims living in that apartment to have. Once you’ve completed the livable apartment, it’s time to move down to the NPC apartments.

The NPC apartments don’t need to be furnished because they will be hidden rooms that you can’t see in so don’t waste your time decorating them. You also don’t need to put walls inside them making rooms either like you did the livable apartment because the hidden room marker will take them away. You will want to make sure that there is one door that accesses what will be the NPC apartment (or apartments) on each floor.

Once you have a door for your NPC apartment, with testingcheatsenabled true set in the cheat window, Ctrl + Shift + Click on the door, and choose “Make NPC door.” This will make the door an NPC door for the NPC apartment. Repeat this process for any other NPC doors that will be NPC apartments. You do not make the livable furnished apartment an NPC door or any other doors on the lot except for the ones that will be NPC apartments.

Note: If you do not have the option “Make NPC door” when Ctrl + Shift + Clicking on the door you want an NPC door, trying changing testingcheats to false and then try it again. I have found that sometimes testingcheats needs to be on, but then other times it needs to be off.

Step 3 – Markers

Now that you have your NPC doors marked and your livable apartment fully furnished, this is the tricky part, the markers. There are two different kinds of markers that you’ll need to use for an apartment building: hidden room marker and public room marker. There is one other type of marker that I will talk about, but it doesn’t need to be used unless you want your apartment lot to function that way.

The hidden room marker will be used inside NPC apartments (or what would be) only. These make the room go black inside and you can’t see through windows or doors. The public room marker is placed on any floor that needs and can be accessed by Sims so for example, the first floor where the callbox and wall mailbox is, and on each floor so that way Sims can visit the NPC apartments and also get to the livable one.

Both these markers are found in the buydebug catalog. To get to the buydebug catalog, if you already don’t have testingcheatsenabled set to true, do that. Then bring up the cheat window again and type buydebug on. (Testing cheats must be on for buydebug to be accessed.) Next, go into Buy Mode and then show all categories rather than sort by room. You will see a new category under show all with a ? on it. Click on that and the buydebug catalog will show. Click the tab on the far right, Miscellaneous, because this is where the markers are located. Scroll through the catalog until you see shiny metal balls. They may not all be near each other in the catalog. To simplify this process sort the catalog to Late Night since they came with Late Night.

The first ball you will want to place is your public room marker. Place one of these in the lobby area on your first floor (and in any other rooms you have on the first floor) so it can be accessed by Sims. Next go up a floor and put this in the small area/hallway where the NPC door is, then to your livable apartment floor and put one in that hallway to that door as well.

Note: After you place the public room marker in the lobby area on the first floor, the lot may lock and not allow you to build/buy and you will get the “Homeowner’s association does not allow you to modify outside your apartment.” message. Just set the restrictbuildbuyinbuildings false and you should be able to place the additional markers.

If you have the NPC and livable apartment on the same floor, you only need one public room marker then. Do not put the public room marker inside the livable apartment or NPC apartment. You also do not need to put the public room marker outside, but can if you like.

Once you have those lobbies/hallways marked, you will now want to hide the NPC apartment. Get a hidden room marker from the buydebug catalog and place it inside the NPC apartment. (Repeat this for any other NPC apartment.) Do not place hidden room markers inside the livable apartment or the lobbies/hallways with the public room marker.

You can also set the ambience sound level by Ctrl + Shift + Clicking on the hidden room marker and choosing “Set Ambient Sound” and you can choose cheap or expensive sound. Default is cheap sound. This is to make sounds like an NPC is in fact living in the hidden apartment.

Step 4 – Finishing Up

Now that you have your NPC apartments marked with the hidden room marker and your public rooms marked as well, it’s now time to make sure your apartment is fully ready. You will need to locate the callbox and make sure that is in the lobby on the first floor. (It can also be outside too.) The wall mailbox however, would be found in the buydebug catalog, but for some reason EA doesn’t have the wall mailbox enabled. You will need a mod for the wall mailbox to show up in the buydebug catalog.

Don’t forget the callbox and wall mailbox!

Note: If you are trying to place your callbox or wall mailbox in the lobby area, or need to make any changes to the livable apartment area once you’ve placed the markers, you will need to use the cheat restrictbuildbuyinbuildings false. This will unlock the lot and allow you to build and buy again if you get the “Homeowner’s association does not allow you to modify outside your apartment.” message.

Make sure you turn off all cheats you used when finished, and save often.

Other than that, test the lot and make sure Sims can access the public floors, mainly the livable one. When living there, the NPC apartments should be black and you can’t see in them. If you’ve done everything correctly, you should have a working apartment!

Sims may not be able to access all floors if they are just visiting the lot. So for testing, make sure the Sim buys the lot. Then just move that Sim out before exporting.

The Other Marker

In the markers section above I mentioned there was another level marker you could use located in buydebug. This marker is called the level skip marker and can be used on the NPC apartment floors if you don’t want Sims to visit those floors. In Live Mode, the camera will also skip over those floors when going up and down floors.

If you wanted to skip the NPC apartment floors, just put the level skip marker in the lobby/hallway of that floor instead of the public room marker. Make sure the livable apartment door isn’t on the same floor as the NPC apartment door if you want to use the level skip marker.