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:tutorial: Basements Quick and Easy
Greg
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Post Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 8:45 pm
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The world needs Yet Another tutorial on how to build basements, right?

Well, maybe it does. I haven't found one yet that discusses basements that aren't rectangular, and most of them leave a lot of points you to discover on your own. So let's see if we can show how quickly and easily you can build a full basement with a relatively complex shape.

1. Start out by using the wall tool to lay out the outer perimeter of your house's foundation.

1. Lay out the foundation

You can put a lot of planning into exactly where things will be in your new home, or you can do what I just did and sort of wing it. At this point I really don't know what the finished house will look like but I thought that since this is corner lot, a nice turrety kinda thing will look nice in the neighborhood.

I figured I wanted a front porch that's six squares wide and the rest is just sort of intuitive, based on whatever instinct I've developed from building lots and lots of houses in The Sims 2.


2. Now we need to establish the level of the basement floor.

In The Sims 2, using the shovel tool to move terrain up or down 16 clicks will be exactly the height of a wall. A normal foundation on level terrain is 4 clicks high, and so is a short staircase. So let's save ourselves a lot of time and just use the stair tool as our measuring guide.


2. The staircase tool takes us down 4 clicks.


If we start at the lower landing of the stair we just built and go down another level, and then do it once more, we end up exactly 12 clicks below ground. We want our basement walls to extend 4 clicks above ground to accommodate a normal foundation height, so now we know just the right level!

3. Three flights of stairs down takes us to the depth we need.


Now, while have the stair tool in hand, just hold down the control key and delete the stairs. They served us well as a measuring device but now we are done with them. I put a floor tile on the bottom level to make it easier to see where we are.

4. Delete the stairs. They were just a measuring tool.

Now it's time to level out our whole basement floor. With the shovel's "level terrain" tool selected, we start at the one square and sweep toward the outer walls, stopping 1 square short of the perimeter.

5. Flatten the basement floor out to 1 square short of the perimeter.


Release the shovel tool and the floor flattens out. Now you can see why we stopped 1 square short. Those outermost squares become the sloping sides of the basement.

6. The squares nearest the outer perimeter form the sloping cliff face.


Last edited by Greg on Wed Jun 01, 2005 12:21 am; edited 5 times in total

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Greg
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Post Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 8:46 pm
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If you go too near the edge, the game will whine at you.


7. You can't select the squares right at the edge.


8. When you hit red, back off one square and let it flatten.

Incidentally, that's Wilhelm Smythe watching the construction in progress. He's just here to keep me company while I'm digging.


9. You can get a couple of more squares of flat floor from those bays, giving the basement a more interesting shape.


10. Sometimes you can sneak up on a sloping edge to flatten a little bit more basement floor.


11. Our excavation is done!


Last edited by Greg on Mon Mar 14, 2005 9:18 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 8:47 pm
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I don't like to leave green turf on the sloping walls. In this house I fixed that by paving over the entire basement in concrete. That was easy to do because the perimeter walls are still there. I just selected one tile in the basement and held down the shift key.


12. Pouring the concrete.


Now we're ready to add the foundation. Start by deleting the perimeter walls. Then construct a foundation just one square wide all around the perimeter.

You select where you want the foundation to go by selecting (1) the top outer corner of the starting square and sweeping to (2) the bottom corner of the ending square, diagonally opposite where you started.


13. Build the foundation with its outer wall right along the cliff face and its inner wall on the basement floor.


14. See how it works?


Work your way around the perimeter, always starting on the foundation you've already built. This assures that you have a consistent level for the whole first floor of your house.

15. Turn the corner and build the next segment.


16. Use the diagonal foundation tool to line up the outer edge where you need it.


17. Keep working your way around, building the foundation along the edge of the cliff.


18. The concrete we poured earlier gives us a nice reference for the diagonal edges.


Last edited by Greg on Tue Mar 15, 2005 8:51 am; edited 4 times in total

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Post Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 8:49 pm
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19. I must have had something in mind when I made this detail shot.


20. And this one.


21. This one, too!

Now when it's all done, look at what some of those diagonal walls did to our basement floor. Where the walls are convex, it leaves a sloping floor.


22. Convex diagonals left sloping floors in the basement.

I don't like that effect, so I square off those corners to bury the sloping floor.


23. One little square of foundation tidies up those corners.


24. Much nicer; no ankle-breaking sloping floor here!


Last edited by Greg on Mon Mar 14, 2005 9:37 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 8:50 pm
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With the whole foundation done, now you're faced with the scary prospect of having the some of the floor tiles apparently floating above the level of the first floor. Be not affrighted.


25. The floor above the basement doesn't seem to line up.


No problem! Just pick a nice floor tile. Select a square on the foundation at the level you want the floor, and drag across those floating squares.


26. Add a floor, starting at the level of the foundation and sweeping across the mess.


When you release the mouse, voila! The floating floor tiles snap into place!

(Some tutorials talk about using the 'boolprop constrainfloorelevation false' command here. I've never needed it.)


27. The floor levels out when you release the mouse button.


28. You can shift-click to fill in the floor to the edges of the foundation.


29. Fill in the holes in your floor, and then cut out a 1x4 slot for the cellar stairs.


An interior stair needs a 1x3 space in the floor above it for clearance. Exterior stairs need 1x4. I like to use exterior stairs inside because sims will follow each other up and down exterior stairs. If you use an interior staircase, they won't mount the stair until it's completely clear and often forget the commands that made them want to go up the stairs.


30. I used an exterior staircase to reach the basement.


31. Our completed basement, with staircase.

(Just ignore the little staircase in the left. I just happened to leave the stair tool resting there when I made the screen shot.)


Last edited by Greg on Tue Mar 15, 2005 12:27 am; edited 2 times in total

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Post Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 8:51 pm
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Well, now that we've built the foundation, let's finish off the house above it!

Wilhelm wants to build this house to impress his girlfriend. so we'll make it look nice. If all goes well, he'll only be living here for about 2 hours; but it's an important two hours!

Part of the front porch will be roofed over so I added some ceiling lights. To get them to go outdoors, I used the 'move_objects on' command. Ditto for the burlgar alarm.


32. I extended the front porch out another square to add some more architectural interest.

Note that I always paint the interior of the foundation walls. That raw brick just seems to look funny otherwise.


33. Ceiling lights are vital in the basement. Otherwise it's too dark and the sims will hate it.


34. The completed house. Wilhelm enjoys the view from the balcony.


35. Our new construction in the neighborhood.

Wilhelm's girlfriend lives right across the street. The third floor of the bedroom wing is the servants' quarters, of course!

Th'th'th'that's all, folks! Grin

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Post Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 4:18 am
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not worthy

Excellent tutorial Greg . . . thanks much! =D

Regards,

~*~ Carrot ~*~
Greg
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Post Posted: Tue Mar 15, 2005 8:59 am
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Glad you liked it!

In late-breaking news: Nina accepted Wilhelm's proposal and now they are happily married.

These days, he lives across the street in her house, helping raise the five children she had all in the same day. (She never should have taken that job as a test subject! But that is a different story!)

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Post Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 7:45 pm
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wow! that was the easiest basement I ever built! That trick with placing the stairs to measure is like the best tip I've seen, thanks Greg!

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Greg
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Post Posted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 12:11 am
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I'm glad you like it! Grin

Yeah, I think the stair trick and laying out the perimeter with walls are two most significant features of my approach to basements.

Here's another one. I wanted to build a house on a severely sloping lot, so part of the first floor had to be buried while part of it could be regular exterior walls.


Andrea Hogan's House

You've probably met Andrea Hogan. She shows up in all my neighborhoods as an NPC in the police career. She's very, very nice but her activity level is near zero and she has the Fortune aspiration; so what the heck is she doing in the cop track?

I'm playing this one in my Lake Dorothy neighborhood, where I don't use any money cheats at all. So at this point Andrea could only afford the basement level of her house. (I do allow myself cheats to correct major deficiencies in the game. In Andrea's case I boosted her activity and changed her aspiration to Knowlege so she'd be happier in law enforcement. The alternative would have been to change her career to Business.)


About 40% of the first floor is normal walls

I used much the same technique to build this one, but instead of laying out the perimeter walls, I did this:

1. Decide on the location of the level floor for the foundation and run the sidewalk up to it.

2. Run a wall into the hill to define a level line for the second floor.

3. Fiddle with little blocks of foundation until I found the exactly level on the hill that lines up with the top of the first-floor wall.

4. Build the perimeter of the house with foundations, not walls.

5. Flatten the floor up to the inner edge of the foundation.

6. Finish up the downslope part of the house with regular walls.


Now I just gotta show you this.


Andrea's Reaction to Seeing Her House For the First Time

When I went into Play mode, Andrea looked up at her house and then this big grin spread across her face! She really likes it! I've never had this happen before; usually the sims just walk around and obsess about the furniture.

(Obviously I also did a major makeover for Andrea. I think the makeup brings out her exotic beauty, though the eye shadow needs some work. It's not right for her bright green eyes. Her tank top is too sheer, too, but what the heck -- she looks really cute in it and sims live by their own rules!)



Andrea's House, First Floor Cutaway

Here you can see where the foundation ends and the normal walls begin. I did not do 'boolprop constrainfloorelevation false' so the walls leveled the slope as I built them.

Afterwards I used the shovel tool to make the slope more gentle in places, especially between the house and the street.

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Post Posted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 3:56 pm
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Thankyou! Finally i was able to build a functional basment.

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Post Posted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 9:57 pm
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Oh man!! I just gotta try this...like, NOW!

Thanks Greg!

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Greg
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Post Posted: Sat Mar 19, 2005 4:58 pm
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The strangest thing about Andrea's house is that the sims walk around the short stairs in front of the house. I don't think any of them has used them, even once.

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Post Posted: Thu Mar 24, 2005 4:33 pm
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Hey Greg . . . mind if I add "my twist" on this?

I'll make a new post showing how I learned to make basements. Of course, my version isn't as fancy as yours but this is how I learned and it does result in functioning basements. =)

Here's my take on basements: http://hullabaloo.simshost.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4677

Regards,

~*~ Carrot ~*~
Greg
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Post Posted: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:43 am
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Carrot, I really like your way of finding the depth of the basement by painting a wall on the foundation.

It would be especially useful for those situations where I want to dig a basement underneath an existing house (which I do all the time). You can't use the stairs as a measuring tool underneath an existing house so I was back to shoveling down one step at a time and trying to fit in a wall section until the wall would fit. This is much faster!

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:tutorial: Basements Quick and Easy
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