The Sims 4 Building Basics:

Build Mode Guide for Beautiful Homes

by Norma Blackburn

Build a House in Sims 4

For many Simmers, building is their favorite part of the game. For others, it can be a daunting task to build a house for their Sim household that is more than just a box with doors, windows and a roof. This guide will hopefully help the builder just starting out and may even help experienced builders with a few hints and tips.

The Very Basics of Build Mode

Enter Build Mode by pressing F3 or selecting the Build Mode button in the top right hand menu (the spanner and hammer icon). Once in build mode, you will see a grid on your land and in the bottom left corner will be an image of a small house. If you have previously been in buy mode, you will need to click on the small house icon at the top of the menu in the bottom left corner. By clicking on various parts of this house, different selection panels will come up, giving you access to all that is available for that area of build mode.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: Build Mode Interface
Build Mode Interface:
1. Walls and empty rooms12. Fences
2. Doors13. Gates
3. Windows14. Stair railings
4. Roofs15. Columns
5. Foundations16. Spandrels
6. Stairs17. Pools
7. Wall patterns18. Outdoor plants
8. Floor patterns19. Fountains
9. Roof patterns20. Terrain paint
10. Roof trims21. Styled rooms
11. Friezes and exterior trims22. Wall sculptures
23. Roof Sculptures

Getting Started - Understanding Rooms

Anyone familiar with building in previous Sims game will notice a change in how the game behaves in build mode. The game now recognizes rooms and will automatically add ceilings and floors to a room when it is built. This can be advantageous, but it can also cause headaches if you are not familiar with how it all works.

Firstly let's look at what a room is exactly as seen by the game. A room is a defined area that has either a floor or is enclosed completely with walls. You can remove the floor from a room and as long as it is enclosed by walls, it is still a room or you could leave the floor and remove all the walls and it will still be a room. However, if you remove the floor and even just one piece of wall, it is no longer considered a room. Rooms are the foundation building blocks in Sims 4, so let's take a good look at how to use this new feature.

Before we do that though, we will first look at the different ways to build a room. When we select the Walls and Empty Rooms tool in Build Mode, we have a number of options.

We can select the basic wall tool and draw out individual walls. This tool is also useful for adding a wall to split an existing room into two rooms.

Half walls can also be used to build a room. It does not matter what height the walls are. As long as the area is enclosed with walls, it is a room.

The room tool is used to drag out a square or rectangular room. Click where you want to begin and then click again when the room is the desired size.

The custom room tool is another way to build an unusual shaped room. Start by clicking on a point to start building. Drag the wall out to a point and click again. With each click, you will see a preview of the wall you are building. The room will be completed when you click on the starting point again. The wall can also be built even if it's not a complete room. Just return to the last click point that is shown by a ball and click once again there. Any walls you have drawn out will then be built.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: custom room tool
Click to Enlarge. It's easy to build unusual shaped rooms with the custom room tool

Room shapes are premade rooms in a particular shape. Once placed, you can drag the wall to make them larger, however, the triangle room will not retain its shape when enlarged and is really only useful for adding to an existing room.

Flat rooms are rooms without walls and are useful as decks and patios.

Decks are similar to flat rooms, but include a fence around the edge. Flat rooms and decks can be joined together to make larger rooms of different shapes.

Let's return to learning more about rooms.

We will start by building a simple 6 x 4 room. We can do this by using the room tool to drag out the room or by using the wall tool to build four walls. This is automatically seen as a room and a floor and ceiling will be added.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: features - enclosed room auto-adds floors and ceilings
Click to Enlarge. An enclosed room is detected and the game adds a floor and ceiling to that room

An interesting exception is when we create an area surrounded by rooms. In this case, the area bounded by the other rooms is not recognized as a room and a ceiling and floor will not be added. This is fine if you wanted a courtyard type area, but you will need to make it a room if you need the floor and ceiling. To make it a room, just use the room tool to drag out a room in the open area.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: how rooms are made
Click to Enlarge. Four rooms together do not automatically make a room in the middle

Let's go back to our simple 6 x 4 room. At this point, you could remove some or all of the walls and it would still be considered a room.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: Even with a wall removed, it's still seen as a room
Click to Enlarge. Even with a wall removed, this is still seen as a room

Now let's add a bit on to our room and change its shape. If we build the walls out from the hole in the wall, the game doesn't see this as being part of the room and will not add a floor or ceiling to it, so we have to fix that ourselves.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: this is not recognized as a room
Click to Enlarge. This extension is not recognized as a room and clicking on it will only highlight sections of the wall

The simplest way to fix this is to build a wall where the original wall used to be. Once the wall is there, the extension will be seen as a complete room and when that happens, we can remove the wall and the two rooms will be combined as one room. Of course, you could just build the extension, then remove the wall.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: adding a wall and rmoving it combines two rooms
Click to Enlarge. Adding a wall between the two areas and then removing it will see the rooms combined as one

Using the select tool (H) in the top toolbar, click anywhere in the room and the whole room will be highlighted. Once the whole room is highlighted, there are a number of things we can do.


Grab an arrow on any wall and pull or push it to move that wall. This can change the shape and size of the room. Note that if a room is furnished, moving the walls will also move any furnishings that are close to the wall. If there is not enough room for the furniture in the newly sized room, the furnishings will be moved to the household inventory.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: pull or push to move the wall in or out and resize the room
Click to Enlarge. Pull or push an arrow on any wall to move that wall in or out to resize the room


With the whole room selected, you can also add and remove the floor. Use the select tool to highlight the whole room then click again anywhere on the floor. A pop up bubble will tell you to remove the floor. Move the cursor over the command and click to remove all the floor in that room. Doing so will reveal the natural ground cover for rooms on ground level and on rooms on upper levels, the room below will become visible.

If your room doesn't have a floor already, you can select the room and you will see a yellow outline around the base of the room. With the room selected, click anywhere on the floor and you will get a pop up to build the floor. Move the cursor over the command and click to build the floor in the room.

The sledgehammer tool can also be used to delete a floor. Using the sledgehammer will remove all the floor of that room.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: building and removing a floor in just the click of a button
Click to Enlarge. Building and removing the floor with just the click of a button

Note that rooms on ground level do not need to have a floor. You can place floor coverings straight onto the ground, however, if you move the room, the floor coverings will stay where you placed them. Rooms on upper levels have to have a floor (or the ceiling of the room below) before you can add floor coverings.


Ceilings are something else you can add or remove when you have a room selected. Use the select tool to highlight the room and then go up to the next building level (page up) Similar to the floor view, there will be a yellow border around the outline of the room. If the ceiling is already there, click anywhere on the ceiling to get a pop up to remove the ceiling. Move the cursor over the command and click to remove all the ceiling for that room. If there is no ceiling and you want to build one, click anywhere on the yellow border to get the pop up to build the ceiling. Click on the command and a ceiling will be built on the room.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: removing or adding a ceiling
Click to Enlarge. Building or removing the ceiling

Moving a Room

One of the better features to be added to build mode is the ability to move an entire room anywhere on the lot. Select a room and you will see a selection menu in the middle of the room. Hover over it and you will have the choice to change the height of the wall, to rotate the room or to move the room. Click the move room icon and you can then move the room to any place on the lot - just click again when the room is in the desired spot. All the furnishings and wall and floor coverings will be moved with the room. This is a great feature to use if you have a room that you like, but would like it in another spot. No need to rebuild it elsewhere, just pick it up and place in the new position.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: move an entire room anywhere on the lot
Click to Enlarge. Move an entire room to anywhere on the lot

There are a few points to note about moving a room. Doors and windows that were between two rooms will be moved with the room.

If you place the room down on anything on the lot, those items will be removed to the household inventory and you will be refunded or charged for any changes made to building materials. Even plants in your garden will be placed in the inventory.

Half walls
Although not restricted to just half height, half walls add more flexibility to buildings. They can be used to divide rooms into smaller areas and work well to hide the back of appliances in island counters. They could also be used to close in porches.

Half Walls in The Sims 4
Click to Enlarge. There are five different heights for half walls

Rooms without Walls

Another room that the game recognizes is a room without walls. After selecting walls and empty rooms from the building menu, select one of the flat or deck shapes and place it. These will add just a piece of floor in the shape that you choose. If you chose a deck, a fence will be added around any open boundaries of that room. Like any recognized room, you can use the select tool and highlight the whole room. Once selected, you can add a ceiling to the room just as you do with a room that has walls and you can pull and push 'walls' to change the shape and size of the room. You can also select an area of wall and build a wall or a fence there. The option to remove the floor is also available when you highlight one of these rooms but it is worth noting that if you remove the floor on a room that is not enclosed all the way around by either fences or a mix of fences and walls, the area will no longer be classed as a room.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: rooms can be decks with or without fences
Click to Enlarge. Rooms can also be decks with or without fences


By default, when we start a fresh building, there is no foundation under that building. If you want to raise it up, select the foundation tool in the building menu. Here you will find a slider to adjust the height and a selection of finishes for the foundation. Foundations and terrain interact with one another as of November 2018 allowing different heights for sections of a home. See the Terrain Tools page to learn more about this.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: foundation height slider and selection of finishes
Click to Enlarge. Foundation height slider and selection of finishes

Grab the slider and move it up. The higher you move it, the higher the foundation will be. Foundations are built across the whole lot, so it is not possible to have one building at ground level and another building on the same lot on a raised foundation.

Choose a finish you want for the foundation by hovering over one of the finishes and then clicking on the palate to enlarge it. Click the color of your choosing and then click on the foundation to change it. Changing the color only does so on the foundation under one room. You will need to move around the house to change all pieces of foundation. This feature could also be used to have different finishes on different parts of foundation.

Sims 4 Building How-To's: foundation finishes should be added to each room
Click to Enlarge. Foundation finishes need to be added to each room

If you have a basement, any stairs you already have or stairs you build up from there will be automatically placed through the foundation, however, if you alter the height of the foundation, the stairs will be adjusted and could be removed if there is not enough room for the new staircase.

Other Building Guides

Sims 4 House Building
Building Cheats
Counters and Islands
Decorating Inside Homes
Decorating Outside/Landscaping
Island Living (Stilt Foundation, Glass Floors)
Split Levels and Lofts
Stairs and Basements
Terrain Tools

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1 2 3 4 > Last
Thank you so much for this!
I've played Sims 4 since launch and I've always had trouble with rooms not wanting to be rooms. Now I understand why!
10th June 2016 1:45pm
Hi. Thanks for this really informative building guide Smile ... However, I belive that you missed writing about the decks.
/ Lyrens35 [has been Simming since 2000]
15th June 2016 8:31am
That is what the small section on rooms without walls is about as they can be used as decks if you wish. Smile
15th June 2016 7:21pm
I mean, in the Build Mode Interface explanation list Grin
15th June 2016 8:34am
Hi! I built two houses on my sims game, let's call them A and B.
I build A before B, quite a while before B, and B is considerably nicer than A.

My sims family is currently living in A, but I want them to move to B. When I try to move them in, I have two options: sell or keep A's furniture.

I spent ages decorating A (just as I did with B) and so I really just want to leave the house complete of its furniture, looking exactly how it did when my sim family moved in.

Is there any way I could keep the furniture in A rather than selling it or moving it in to B?

Thanks Smile
17th June 2016 2:36am
The 'sell' option keeps the furniture with the house your sims are moving out from. Smile It basically makes your sims 'sell' the furniture with the house rather than moving the furniture with them into the new house.
17th June 2016 7:49pm
im just kidding you just press sell and it will stay at house A sorry
13th August 2016 1:28am
you can also save the house into your gallery, sell the furniture and then replace the house with the furniture.
28th June 2016 1:57am
Hey, just move all the nice furniture into your families inventory. Move all your nice stuff... the stove, the bed, the art, the TV, your computer, maybe even the the fire alarm. These items will all be in your inventory when the sims get to the new house.
26th August 2016 6:56am
Hello, I'm not sure whether or not your question has been answered yet, but unfortunately, I believe your only option to keep all the furniture would be put everything in your household inventory... neither practical nor quick to finish, I'm afraid.
I don't recommend keeping the furniture either, what would you do with it in the second house, anyway? Instead, it may be a good idea to create another household to live in house A, so your work doesn't go to waste.
Hope this helps :)
15th July 2018 11:24am
One thing, stairs in the Sims 4 seem to act differently than most objects, how do I rotate them?
9th July 2016 10:05pm
You can select them and use the arrows on screen to rotate them or click and hold them with the mouse wheel held down. Sometimes if they are being particularly tricky to place it is easier to delete them and place another set down. Using the ',' and '.' keys might be easier for you too.
Game Controls
10th July 2016 8:05pm
Crying i am trying to place a door in my room play it keeps saying "Footprints interacts with terrain"
18th July 2016 2:16pm
I tried to troubleshoot and search on this problem. I'm not getting the same error message, nor finding much about it. I tried both remodeling a house in Windenburg with a household and without. The only thing that might (?) be of issue is there may be plants or something in the way when trying to place the door.
28th July 2016 7:06pm
Toni Irving
So I have a question, and I hope someone here can help. I used the prefab rooms to build a house, except for the hallway in the middle, I did that manually. Now, for some reason, the hallway is registering as "outside" because it reflects the sunlight on one wall, and the roof view shows an empty hole where the ceiling should be. How do I fix this? Please? Help? Or will I have to scrap an hours work and start from scratch?
30th July 2016 9:08am
Select the problem wall, and move it in or out slightly to fill in the hole in the roof. It should then automatically fill-in the ceiling so it all registers as indoors.
30th July 2016 4:05pm
this was really helpful, but is there a way to have walls that are just glass, i want an indoor rainforest pool type thing, and i want the walls to be all glass! do i just have to use windows? because they have the outline railing thing, which i'd prefer not to have! Smile
19th September 2016 11:27pm
The only item available in an unmoded game are the windows. Depending on which pack you have there are some lovely large windows that might not look too intrusive.
20th September 2016 10:24pm
I dont have all the packs but i don't think there are any floor to ceiling windows (i miss those from sims 2!)

There are big windows with one big pane but theres the edge like you describe. They still look nice imo though. I usually build a pool and then the basement/floor level under it, put windows all around the pool. Means you can see people in the pool and can also see people downstairs from upstairs.

You can also have pools in your basement and then do the same as above in a 2nd basement floor - put windows all round.

It also helps add some light to the basement area!
3rd October 2016 11:33am
The room you use as an example is 6x5 (rather than 6x4) :P.
24th October 2016 5:59pm
i built the foundation but i cannot add stairs outside and i believe this is why my sim wont leave the house. How do i fix this problem?
24th October 2016 8:11pm
Make sure the stairs are facing the correct way while you are trying to place them. If it is still not working try building a small deck and place the stairs on the deck.
25th October 2016 9:28pm
I know it is still relatively new, but is there a cheat on being able to change at least the apartment door in the Sims City Life? I like the ideas of apartments but most of the ones that I've put families in have differ apartment doors leading out to the communial hall. Is there also a way to make changes to the hallway?
11th November 2016 10:22pm
There doesn't seem to be any way just yet to change any part of the exterior of apartments, including the hallways. Maybe in time a modder may come up with some way of doing this. Smile
13th November 2016 2:14am
Any tips for choosing which lot to build a house on?
21st December 2016 3:14pm
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