Build mode is one of three main modes in most of the games of The Sims series of games (the others being Live mode and Buy mode). Build mode is used mainly for architectural and construction work; addition of plumbing, counters and lighting, things typically done during real-life construction, is done in Buy mode instead. Some build mode tools may be inactive if playing on a dorm or apartment lot, and build mode itself may become unavailable during certain in-game events like fires or burglaries.
Unlike Buy mode objects, Build mode objects usually remain on a residential lot after a household moves out.
Building Basics Edit
Regardless of the version of the game being played, building using the game's Build mode can be made simpler with some basic knowledge, use of the correct key combinations and use of suitable Build Mode Tools.
Keys and Key Combinations Edit
In The Sims, The Sims 2, and The Sims 3, build modes are all relatively similar - if one is already adept at using one version of the Build Mode, other versions can be mastered with very little effort. For example, all Build Modes make use of the same keys for performing actions. These keys are:
The Shift Key: When painting/covering walls, holding SHIFT will allow you to paint the whole wall section at once. If the wall creates a complete room, holding SHIFT will paint the whole room at once. When placing flooring, holding SHIFT will allow you to paint the floor with the selected flooring. When placing walls, holding SHIFT will create square or rectangular rooms. This can be done with half walls and fences as well. In The Sims 2 or later, there is a tool specifically for creating rectangular rooms. When placing some objects, holding SHIFT will duplicate the object. Many objects will automatically duplicate, like trees and windows.
The CTRL Key: When painting/covering walls, holding CTRL will allow you to un-paint a single section of wall, returning it to its initial, bare appearance. When placing flooring, holding CTRL will remove a single tile of flooring, returning the tile to its initial appearance - you will either see grass/ground or foundation, depending on the game and what you are building. When building walls, holding CTRL will allow you to remove entire lengths of wall. Using the Wall Tool, hold CTRL as you pull the Wall Tool along the length of an already-placed wall (also works for fences and half walls) to remove the wall. In The Sims, you must delete or move any items on the wall being removed; in The Sims 2 or The Sims 3 those items are automatically deleted when you remove the wall.
CTRL+SHIFT Key Combination: When painting/covering walls, using CTRL+SHIFT (hold down both keys at the same time), you can un-paint a whole wall section at once, returning it to its bare appearance. If the wall creates a complete room, using CTRL+SHIFT will un-paint the whole room at once. When placing flooring, using CTRL+SHIFT will remove all of the same type of flooring in the room; in The Sims, using CTRL+SHIFT will remove all flooring, regardless of type. Flooring that is underneath an object may not be removed, especially on upper floors.
The ESC key: Using the ESC key will immediately cancel any action you are performing and will deselect any object you have picked up with the Hand Tool.
CTRL+Z and CTRL+Y: Build mode allows you to undo and redo previous actions, but using CTRL+Z (undo) and CTRL+Y (redo) is a quick and handy way to undo or redo actions without clicking other buttons.
General Building Rules Edit
Building in Build Mode requires that the builder follow certain parameters laid out by the game. Some common ones are as follows:
Lot Boundaries: You cannot build or place objects outside the limits of the lot. Walls and foundations cannot be placed within 2 tiles of the outer limit of the lot, or within 2 tiles of the front sidewalk (The sidewalk marks the forward limit of the property). Fences can be placed all the way up to the edge of the lot.
Proper Support: Especially important when building on foundation or when building multiple floors, you are not able to place walls or fences on areas that are not supported by the floor below, either by walls or by columns. When placing flooring, you are restricted as to how far out beyond the support below you may go - if building off of a straight wall below, you may only go 2 tiles outward from the wall without requiring more support below. Note that these rules do not apply if building above an already-enclosed room.
Indoor-Outdoor Placement: Some objects, like landscaping objects and trees, can only be placed outside on the terrain. Other objects cannot be placed outside, and must be inside a structure. Other objects, like pools in The Sims and The Sims 2, must be placed on the ground, not on a foundation, even if the pool is indoors.
Walls on foundation / Walls off foundation: Walls that are resting directly on the ground cannot connect to walls that sit on foundations, or on decking.
Proper Clearance: All items placed must have enough clearance (height) available for them to be placed - items cannot be placed directly underneath a roof. This may be bypassed somewhat in The Sims and The Sims 2 by not placing floor tiles underneath the wall-enclosed object (fixed in The Sims 3 by adding a height check).
Height Limits: In The Sims, all structures are limited to 2 floors. In The Sims 2 all structures are limited to five levels, including basements and foundations, and in The Sims 3 all structures are limited to eight levels: four floors in the surface and four basement levels (plus the foundations for above-ground leveling).
Tile and Wall Size: The height of a section of wall is equal to the length of 3 floor squares -- this is most noticeable while placing a 45º roof. It is possible that the length of a game tile is 1 meter, and that the height of a section of wall would then be 3 meters.
Refunding: Within The Sims series, objects and structures placed in Build mode depreciate as soon as they are placed. For example, removing a wall gives §56 instead of the original §70. This adds realism to the game and gives the player limited tries at building before the costs of building use up too much of the funds intended for furnishing and living expenses. The undo tool was introduced to give the player a chance to receive full reimbursement, but players still need to be wise since the memory of the tool isn't unlimited. In The Sims and The Sims 2, using the undo tool is the only way to get a refund for changes made with the Terrain Tool.
Hand tool: Allows players to select and move or delete objects. It has appeared in all The Sims games on PC and Mac.
Eyedropper tool:[TS2][TS3] When pointed at a wall covering, floor covering, or most objects, the tool will show the name of what it's pointed at. Clicking on a wall or floor covering will switch to the appropriate area of build mode and select that covering so it can be applied. Clicking on an object will make an exact duplicate of it, and will focus the catalog on that object.
Design tool:[TS2] Allows a recolor or other change to a selected item. Costs §15 per use, and some items cannot be changed. The Design tool was featured in The Sims 2, and was replaced in The Sims 3 by the Create a Style tool.
Create a Style:[TS3] This tool opens up the Create a Style menu, which allows the player to redecorate and recolor most items using both preselected styles and colors, or by manually using a color wheel and different available textures. Use of this tool is free. This tool was featured in The Sims 3.
Top-down View:[TS2] Switches the display to (or from) a view from above.
Undo/Redo: In The Sims, this was only available in build mode, and the undo/redo history would be lost if the player switched to Buy mode. In later games, the undo/redo history will be kept even if the player switches between Buy and build modes.
Sledgehammer tool:[TS2P][TS3] Introduced in The Sims 2: Pets. It's another way to remove walls and objects, and can remove all objects that are on a tile. In The Sims 3, the sledgehammer tool can be clicked-and-dragged to delete objects or construction over multiple tiles, instead of one-at-a-time.
Additional Information Edit
In some situations, Build mode, as well as Buy mode, may become disabled, such as during a fire, burglary, or other major event. This is done to prevent modifications to the lot that may impact or prevent a game event from occurring. After the event has ended, Build and Buy modes will be re-activated.
It's also disabled when traveling in (World Adventures). There is a cheat given to prevent this in The Sims 3, where there is a dialog notifying the event and the functions are disabled but not greyed out.
The build mode objects are divided into several categories. In The Sims 2 and The Sims 3, most of these categories are divided into subcategories. Not all categories or subcategories are present in all games; build mode subcategories were never introduced into The Sims.