View Full Version : Apartment Life: How To Build A "Hotel-Style" Apartment Complex tutorial

31st Jul 2010, 2:07 AM
How To Build A "Hotel-Style" Apartment Complex

So you have the general idea of how to build an apartment complex, yes? Or perhaps you are the newest rookie in the expansive league of Sims 2: Apartment Life. No matter which, this basic tutorial (with step-by-step instructions) is for you - by yours truly (Naeniver).

First of all...

You will need to understand what a hotel-style apartment complex is (in comparison to regular ones or to hotels/motels) before you start building one. Regular apartment complexes can be small houses (completely furnished with bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, livingroom, etc), or one large building with each floor or section designated for a particular apartment (also completely furnished in regards to the rooms). Examples of this style of apartment include the keef1973 (http://modthesims.info/member.php?u=223325) Ocean Grove Close (http://modthesims.info/download.php?t=325731) or the ruthless_kk (http://modthesims.info/member.php?u=742655) Painted Ladies Apartments (http://modthesims.info/download.php?t=320170) or any number of others.

A hotel is a large fancy building in which the apartments are typically only two basic rooms: a bedroom/general area and a bathroom. Then (typically on the main floor) you find a public entertainment area, kitchen and dining room area, etc. Everything that wouldn't be found in each individual apartment. Usually the only exception to this is in the event that you have a penthouse, in which it has everything. An example of this (not quite exact, but similar) would be my own 8 Livingston Lane (http://modthesims.info/download.php?t=317687).

A motel would be much like a hotel only there are no public areas. Each apartment is just a tiny little bedroom with a bathroom smacked on it and you get to go out for dinner and if you get bored you need to walk to the nearest movie theater. Motels are typically long single- or double-story buildings (outside stairs and balconies for access to second story), whereas hotels are usually fairly squarish buildings with LOTS of storeys.

What separates an apartment complex from a Hotel-style apartment complex? Well, I've never seen a hotel that didn't have public areas. Typically, with apartment complexes, there is just the individual apartments. No public kitchen, probably no public bathrooms, etc. But a hotel often has kitchens, bathrooms, activity rooms, spas, etc. The problem is, an ordinary hotel is much like a motel: just a bedroom and a bathroom. So, squish the hotel into the apartment complex, and you get the public areas plus full-sized apartments!

Next you need to understand that the only EP (expansion pack, like Apartment Life or University) or SP (stuff pack, like Family Fun) that is needed (aside the base game, of course) is the Apartment Life EP. Nothing else is required in order to make a decent apartment of any style (apartment complex, motel, or hotel). If you have other EPs or SPs (or even some custom content by you or someone else) then that is great. I always try to avoid custom content because it slows the game down and because it is a hassle to try and find out whether a particular creator wants his/her stuff being uploaded anywhere (I like building lots just to upload them; if you only want to build to play in them, then you don't need to worry about this).

One last thing to say is that typically the most apartments you will want to put in is 4 or 5 (more, if your machine can handle it, or even less if not). While the game doesn't much care if you have 2 or 20 apartments, your computer will (and so will everyone else's). I have one apartment complex (7 Livingston Lane - Nursing Home (http://modthesims.info/download.php?t=319202)) that has 10 apartments, and it makes my own computer slow even if there is no one there.

Tips on Planning Ahead

Whenever I go to build a house or apartment/hotel I don't just lay down a lot on a flat piece of land and begin building. That is a recipe for disaster, and likely to be the reason why many brand new creator's lots get rejected (and some of us oldies, too). Few things work out alright without a little devotion and a lot of both time and planning. You have to anticipate problems and fix them before it gets too late. It is not fun to finish furnishing something and then notice a very significant problem in your structure, causing you to have to demolish the entire building.

So what I do to help fix this problem is to lay out the entire building on graphing paper. I have a tablet filled with sketches of houses that I use all the time. Sometimes I've spent weeks working on layouts in my tablet before even approaching the computer. I have a castle spread across 4 sheets of paper. Each house is completely furnished with little symbols. A 3x1 rectangle with a circle at one end is a bed; a D looking thing is a chair. I find that planning ahead and drawing out the complete house layout filled with furniture is the best way to see problems before actually going into the lot to begin building.

Will this solve every problem? Heck no; you never can tell when you might get the inspiration to change the structure of a room, or want to add in a whole new room for some reason. But you would be amazed at how many problems you can avoid. As you build the livingroom and add on a kitchen, you might notice you made the master bedroom too big. You can't fit in the kitchen the way you wanted to, but you aren't sure what to do with the master bedroom. Rather than repeating adding walls or removing them (and this is further complicated if you build on a platform, in which case that too must be continually altered), if you draw it out on graph paper and make sure it looks alright and that you seem to have enough space to do what you wanted, then you avoid having to continually hassle with all those walls! Making lines and erasing them are much easier.

This is especially convenient for people who have little time on the computer. You may not get a lot of time on the computer each day, but think of the hours you might spend on the bus or waiting for your turn in the doctor's office, or even when using the bathroom! Then you have that limited time on the computer open to actually build instead of making countless revisions.

Choosing what you want in your hotel
So, if you choose to use graph paper, or even if you don't, you need to decide what sort of hotel you want to build. Some questions to ask yourself might include: Do I want it modern, Victorian, or what? How many floors do I want? Do I want it on a foundation? Do I want a basement or two (or more; note that, to my knowledge, foundation is required for a basement to work)? Do I want stairs and/or elevators? How much space outside for things like a playground or barbecue? How about an outdoor pool (or would you rather put it inside, if you have a pool at all)? How much gardening/landscaping do I want (each hotel should have at least some landscaping; some flowers/bushes a few trees, maybe even a small pond). Heck, if you want to, you could even add a few parking spaces just for looks, even if they aren't usable. A common problem is seeing a lot in your mind, then going in to build, getting half-way through and then realizing you've run out of room. As you are asking yourself these questions (and especially if you decide to draw out the floorplan first), you need to keep in mind a few very important things, which are listed below:

The Kitchen! -- If you have a public eating area, EACH apartment must have a fridge inside if you plan on them eating on the lot (which is kinda vital :jest: ). I learned this through trial and error. Your public fridges, stoves and other appliances will not work if you don't include a fridge inside the apartment. When building hotels (that come with a nice kitchen and dining room) you should always include a fridge in the apartment, as well as having the complete kitchen assortment to be used by the public. If you have it available, use the mini fridge. Throw in a counter, stick the mini fridge in, add a trashcan somewhere (the wall compactors are really handy if you have them available to you) and then you are set to go. They can have snacks (and somewhere to prepare them) in their rooms, and go to the public kitchen and dining room to eat meals. The only exception to this whole issue is if you have complete kitchens in each apartment. If this is a hotel, then it is rather pointless; I've never been in a hotel (or motel - never been in an apartment complex) in which each apartment has its own kitchen (except a penthouse, but I've never been there either). However, if you build several small houses or mobile homes, then naturally this isn't an issue, because each should have its own kitchen anyhow; but with hotels, you pretty much have to have a public kitchen and then some kitchenette of some sort in each apartment.

The Phones! -- Also learned through trial and error, no phones seem to work for the general public (not even if you put one in your apartment). So don't bother putting any out in public rooms. I once put a public one outside in a booth but it didn't work. I left it there (because it was for looks anyway), but there is no reason for you to unless you want to. However, the benefit of having Apartment Life is that you can now turn your phones off, screen the calls, etc. This means you can add the phone (on silenced mode) to the bedroom if you darn well want to, and it won't ever disturb your sim's sleep!

A potentially important issue is with any gardening you might do. If you add in bushes and flowers, you need to remember that they will need to be weeded from time to time. Originally, I had a habit of placing the very small fencing (the stuff that your sims can step over) around my gardens. But recently I've discovered that sometimes they can block your sims from gardening. Your sim must have access to the plant from inside the "room" that the fence creates. They don't seem capable of reaching across the fence. Go figure. This may not apply to everyone, as I never had this problem until recently (around the time I got a new EP... perhaps when I got Mansion&Gardens or even Apartment Life itself. I can't really pinpoint it down, but when you test your lot after creating it, make sure your sims can maintain the garden. Additionally, another problem with those tiny little fences (at least, the kind you put inside between different floorings, such as between wood and carpet) is that they can interfere with the lotzoning. Putting them in can make an apartment not work at all.

There is a very minor issue with lights and/or shades as well. You don't want to place these anywhere near the apartment door (or any other door, maybe). I've had them jab the door in the open position without any hope of fixing the issue. Previously, if the door gets jammed open, resetting it fixed the problem, but this doesn't appear to work with apartment doors. So just make sure they are a safe distance away. Again, I can't really pinpoint the issue; sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't. To be on the safe side, I would just avoid putting them anywhere near the doors (except, naturally, on either side, if you put windows by the doors; that is fine).

Lastly, HERE (http://www.sims2wiki.info/wiki.php?title=Tutorials:Building_an_Apartment) is a list of other do's and don'ts of apartment-building that do not cover the above issues (except for the fencing that alters the lotzoning; it goes into great detail than what I put above). Be sure to check it out and read it carefully.

Now that we have those issues out in the open, we can begin. So you know what is necessary to make an apartment work, right? An ideal way to format your hotel is to have all public rooms on the main floor, and then apartments on the next floors up. Depending on how large a hotel it will be, and how many floors, you will have a varying amount of apartments. My 8 Livingston Lane is medium sized in area, but it is also 4 storeys high. This allows for me to have 5 apartments, but each one is quite large (especially and naturally the penthouse on the 4th floor). So how big around will you want your apartment, and how many floors? Make sure to leave space for outdoor activities such as a pool, a garden or small park, a barbecue area, and a playground, if any of those suit your interest. My 8 Livingston Lane has a playground, pool and barbecue, and they all fit into about the same amount of space as the hotel itself. Additionally, if you have the skill to add a basement, then a whole new set of choices open up. You can throw in the pool and even some game rooms or big living room in the basement, while having the entry hall, kitchen and dining room on the main floor, then the upper floors for the apartments. Then outside you could have the barbecue or whatever you wish. It is completely up to you. You can skip them all and just go for the necessities: the entry, kitchen and dining room (plus the apartments above). It depends all on your style and taste, what you have in mind for the hotel, how big a hotel you want, and that sort of thing.

Once you have exactly what you want, whether you've drawn it out or just doing your best to remember it, now you want to start the building. Make sure you get a lot big enough, but not too big. There is nothing worse than finding the hotel you can't fit it all in or there is miles of extra space all over. The benefit of drawing it out on graph paper is that you can find out the area before building. That helps you get the right size before you start building. If you find you barely exceed one lot size but don't come close to the next larger lot size, just think of something new that you hadn't considered before that could use up the extra space. The possibilities are limitless.

One last thing to mention, is that you can google for pictures of real hotels and try to duplicate them. Usually you will only find exterior images, but you can try various search inputs such as "hotel floorplan" or "hotel blueprint" or something akin to that, and you may be able to find exterior images and the floorplans to go with them. One very important thing to remember is that you should always include your reference picture (the real-life image) with your upload to show everyone the real deal. This not only goes with hotels, but every other structure, object, sim, etc that you ever upload. Usually the only exceptions to this is if uploading the reference image is a potential security issue (such as replicating your own home; a lot of people wouldn't want to put a picture of their real home online for security reasons, myself included).

Choosing what you want in each apartment

First things first, keep in mind that there is no set method to build and furnish and decorate. I don't always follow these instructions myself. But they are basic guidelines in a more or less straight-forward manner.

Naturally, you need to remember how big the whole apartment will be. Depending on overall size, you need to make sure each apartment is roughly the same size (except if you are adding a penthouse, and then that apartment might cover the entire upper floor). If you look at my 8 Livingston Lane, you will notice that the four apartments on the 2nd and 3rd floors are almost exactly the same in size, shape and layout. When you first decide how much space you will have total and how many apartments, you need to decide what to have inside each apartment. Naturally a bathroom and at least one bedroom, plus the small kitchenette. The normal apartments of 8 Livingston Lane enough space for a master bedroom, a second bedroom for a roomie, child, sibling, parent or whatever, a bathroom and a small main room that doubles as the kitchenette and the "living room". I don't need a lot of stuff in the main room because downstairs, I have the TV, chess table, piano, bookshelves and computers downstairs, and in the halls I put exercise machines and a card table. Add in the fact that there is the pool, barbecue, playground, kitchen and dining room, there isn't a whole lot I need in each apartment. I could have easily added a basement and had even more stuff! So I merely put in the basic necessities: phone, kitchenette, bathroom, and at least one bedroom (in my case, 2 bedrooms). And then my penthouse has even more (a regular sized kitchen, a dining room, a private deck, a nicely sized bathroom, a small sitting area, a master bedroom and a secondary bedroom for that extra person). If you consider that maybe it will just be one or two people so the master bedroom is all that is needed in that regard, the extra bedroom could be turned into a living room or whatever tickles your fancy. It all depends on what you want and what you think works best. My 8 Livingston Lane is a little outdated, since I've gotten more experienced and have bought more EPs and SPs since then, but it is still a very livable hotel and it even looks great! :P

Building the Hotel

To start off, if you are having foundation, throw it in. Don't bother with wallpaper/paint/whatever or flooring yet. There is no reason to do that. We'll choose what we want to cover our floors and walls with later on. Put in walls for your first floor, sectioning off all rooms that you want. If you are planning on having a basement, put it in now. Don't wait any longer. If you want one but don't know how to make one, try this tutorial HERE (http://mikeinside.modthesims2.com/building/printable/MultiLevelBasementTutorial_by_MikeInside.pdf) for building multi-level basements or this tutorial HERE (http://mikeinside.modthesims2.com/building/basements/index.html) for single basements of various types before continuing. There are other tutorials hanging around too, if these are too complicated. Try finding them yourself or ask someone in one of the help forums; if push comes to shove, feel free to PM me for some assistance. Keep in mind that if you want basements, you must have your hotel on foundation. It doesn't seem to work without foundation.

If you want any landscaping, you can put it in now or do it later. Sometimes I tend to put in some landscaping, just to get a feel for things, and then complete it later on. Other times I may build the entire exterior of the hotel and all landscaping and outdoor activities while the inside of the hotel is still blank and just a shell. It doesn't really matter. Just remember to use the space fairly outside. You don't want too much space for a playground and find there is zero space for landscaping.

Once you have a foundation and/or a basement (if you want them), any initial or complete landscaping (depending on whether you want these now or not), and once you have walling on for the first level (not just the outside shell, but each individual room as well), then go up a level, put a random, cheap flooring across the main floor (I usually grab the first carpet I can get my hands on, since carpet is only $2) and put in the walling for the second floor. Continue this method until you have the complete shell of the entire hotel building. Next thing I usually do is the exterior walling and the roof, maybe even all landscaping. For this tutorial, we'll build almost the complete outside before moving inside.

So, choose what sort of exterior you want. Do you want brick? Stone? Whatever you choose, put it on each level and the foundation (if you have one) or choose a variety (usually only 2-3 kinds of exterior at the most) and place it so that it looks good. If you have any decks or pathways, put in your brick, stone, wood or whatever you might want to use. Look at my 8 Livingston Lane. I used that gray flooring (concrete, I think) for the barbecue and pool area, and that other concrete for the path. Depending on how much exterior activities you want (like a barbecue or pool), you may have a lot of space covered by flooring, or none at all (except for the main pathway from the road to the front door, which you should always have).

Throw on some roof. Don't use the auto-roofing. Be careful in what you choose and what style you go for. There are at least 2 styles you can use. Flat (just paste some flooring on the top) or regular (in which case you need to make sure it matches the walling). If you happen to have Mansion&Garden stuff, that really nice, sloped-with-the-flat-top roofing is also available (for the life of me, I can't think of the name of that style of roofing); if you use this style, you also need to make sure the color matches the walling. If you use the regular roof that comes with the basegame, don't forget to adjust the roof pitch (Mansion&Garden has that option built in; otherwise use the cheat). Also, be sure not to use just one style if you don't have to. Use all sorts of regular roof styles. For example, 8 Livingston Lane uses just one piece of roof up top, plus that little overhang down below, whereas Candlewick Estate or some of my others use several different styles and pieces. It just depends on what you want and what looks good.

Once you have the exterior walling and the roof done, start in on your landscaping and any exterior activities. Put in your pool, pond, barbecue, or whatever you have in mind. When you finish, put in at least a few trees, bushes or flowers. Mix and match them. If you use some large bushes (like the hedges) to section off pieces of the backyard that you don't plan on using, make sure you have some nice firm fencing to keep weeds from growing back there, as I did with 8 Livingston Lane, but keep in mind not to block these greenery from being able to be weeded (as I've done in the past). Lastly, change the grass. Using the basic grass should usually be avoided, and the more expansion packs you have, the more options you should have. For example, with Mansion&Garden (I think) you can have grass with scattered leaves, grass with flowers, mowed grass, etc. Lots of varieties.

Once the exterior is completely finished and you are satisfied, go to the main floor. Depending on the various rooms you have and the style you have in mind, start putting in walling and flooring, and then furnish it. If you have a basement, do that next. Move upstairs and do the same thing with all your apartments. I always start with the necessities like beds, chairs, toilets, showers, etc. before I put in not so important stuff, like toys or decor. Be liberal but don't go overboard. I often tend to use different color coordination and styles for each apartment, so that there is a little variety, even though the basic format is virtually the same.

When you finally are finished, re-examine each and every room, floor and landscaping. Make adjustments. Tweak the positioning of a rug, or change the color of the bedspread. Decided you don't like the couch you chose? Get a new one. Just keep making minor changes until you are completely satisfied.

If you have the inclination and know-how of uploading lots to ModtheSims (or any other place), do so. Here on ModtheSims we have our Creator Feedback Forum (http://www.modthesims.info/fd.php?f=473) to get some advice. You should always try to get feedback there before uploading. Take a lot of pictures and show them off, giving descriptions if you wish. People can then give you feedback to help make your hotel even better! Just keep in mind that you are by no means obligated to do everything they suggest, but you should at least try. If they don't like your hotel, chances are there will be lots more people who won't. Stay calm when confronted with feedback you don't like and be reasonable in all situations.

Now I will give you a sort of album to show how I might build a hotel. I'll try to give some descriptions of all pictures to help you along. Because I want to show how to build almost everything, I will use the largest lot and put in a bit of everything: a barbecue, a pool, a basement, a playground, a park... everything I can think of.

Building the Hotel - Example

First off, my visual guide (reference picture). I found this randomly while googling and thought it would be great to use for this tutorial.


The first thing I did was sit down and stare at it a while. I began gathering ideas of what I would do and what I couldn't do (for instance, that curving driveway was out of the question, and I could already see that, considering the size of the hotel, chances were even the biggest lot wouldn't fit all the yardstuff.

Once I knew what I wanted to do, I grabbed my graph paper and went to work. It took quite some time. The first thing I did, was figure out the lengths as they seemed from the outside. Once I had that figured, I drew it into the graph paper. Then I ignored the picture and went to work on the interior. The completed floor plans are here. As you will see, I won't necessarily follow these exactly. The more I work, the more I'll have better ideas. I also don't put in each and every object on the graph paper that I will in the lot (especially things such as curtains or decorations). Just the main, big objects (chairs, beds, tables, counters, etc).


When I was satisfied with what I had done, I returned to my computer and chose my lot size. Because I had already drawn it on graph paper, I knew what size I would need. It would need to be 50 squares wide and 40 squares long (technically 50x50, but the road makes up 10), or a 5x4 lot in the neighborhood taskbar. So I grabbed the lot, stuck it on a flat piece of land, and I was ready. Here is one important thing everyone should know if they plan on uploading any lot. Always build on a completely flat lot. All the edges have to be perfectly level. Any hills you add later are fine, but the original simply must be level. Otherwise, when other people download the lot and put it in their neighborhoods, all those weird irregularities can make their neighborhood landscape go really wacky.

Once in my lot I first started by putting down the walkways and the walls for the first floor. I slapped some concrete where I wanted the pool to go, as well, regardless of whether or not it was the color of concrete I would ultimately want. I just wanted to "bookmark," so to say, where I was going to put things. After I had the basics for that done, I added on second, third, fourth and fifth floors. And roofing, and the fencing to go with the roofing. Now I have the shell of the hotel.


Next step is to add a little color. I found, that in order to make it as alike as possible, that I needed to make my own exterior, wooden walling. So I did (and I uploaded it in my Wooden Blend (http://www.modthesims.info/download.php?t=389255) wallpaper/flooring set). And I threw in those... things on the roof; for solar power, I guess.


Next up are some windows and doors. For this lot, I found I really needed to download some from right here on modthesims by Tiggy027 (http://www.modthesims.info/member.php?u=26394). They are the Metro Window Set (http://www.modthesims.info/download.php?t=257715). Really modern windows that can be extended from one piece to the next...


Throw in some of the landscaping and other outside details, front, back, both sides...


Next, moving indoors. I always just throw down some quick cheap carpet in every room. Usually, with hotels and the such, I use color coordination to tell the different sections (apartments) from the others. From first floor up:


Next, I go in for flooring, walling, and furniture. Usually I turn it to nighttime and throw in some cheap ceiling lighting so that the rooms are fully lit (putting in light without making it night time won't turn the lights on; gotta be night time for the lights to be on). This is the part that takes a while. I usually tackle one floor at a time, and I take my time. Even after doing each floor, I frequently jump back downstairs to one floor or another to add in more stuff. Eventually, however, you have the end result. All floors are fully furnished. The entire exterior gets some final touches if needed, and finally, we have our hotel!

When furnishing the interior, I always do flooring first. It helps distinguish the different rooms from each other, and tells what they are. Tiles or linoleum generally means bathroom or kitchen. Wood floor means den or maybe dining room. Carpet (in different shades) means livingroom, hallways, bedrooms and closets. My personal choice is, like I said, color coordination. Blue, Green, Yellow, Red, etc. Different shades depending on the room in a particular apartment of a given color.

Next I move in on walling. I also generally try to stick with similar pieces so things match. I often use the panels that cover half a wall in the kitchen, with the small rims along the floor and ceiling for other rooms.

When that's done, I start with the basic furniture pieces, usually going with one room at a time. Once the basics are in (beds, chairs, tables, bathroom fixtures, kitchen counter-tops, fridges, stoves, etc). Again, like I've said previously, if your apartment has a public eating area, gotta add at least a mini-fridge in the apartments. In this case, though, each apartment has a full-sized kitchen anyway, so we don't need to worry about that.

After the basics, I start adding in more elaborate stuff. Better lighting, shades, carpet, a piano, toys, tv, musicbox, etc. Finally I start in with the little stuff. Little dodads for the shelves, fruit bowls for the counter corners, model airplanes hanging from the ceiling; you know, all that worthless stuff that makes the room more cheerful. And when I'm done with the finishing touches... I move on to the next apartment.


And the final exterior shots to show some updates (primarily the playground and eating area out back, as well as the fountains out front).


Next, preview it to others. Head over to the Sims 2 sub-forum of the Creator Feedback Forum, loaded down with lots of pictures, and show off your creation! Listen to their tips, follow some if you like, and when you think you've gotten all the advice you're likely to get, there remains only one thing to do before uploading it! Changing the lot type from Residential to Apartment. The cheat can be found HERE (http://www.simswiki.info/wiki.php?title=Game_Help:Sims_2_Cheats#Neighborhood_Cheats). Scroll down about 1/4 or 1/3 of the way down, or just do a search of the page for "lot zoning" or "apartmentbase". You should always play safe by backing up (exporting the lot into a folder on your harddrive; usually found in C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\My Documents\EA Games\The Sims 2\PackagedLots where USERNAME is your computer log-in identity). That way, if something needs to be changed, you can change it. Once you change a lot to another type, it doesn't necessarily work properly if you change it back. It might, but it might not, and it's best to play it safe. Once the lotzoning is changed to apartmentbase, however, then you should go to the neighborhood view and double check. There should be the green cube thing over the lot, just like with the Maxis apartments. You'll notice the old residential mailbox is now much different, with lots of mail slots. Double-check that it registers the correct number of apartments (from the neighborhood view).

Make sure you have all the appropriate pictures for upload and whatnot, and then go ahead and upload! A tutorial all about uploading lots can be found HERE (http://www.modthesims.info/showthread.php?t=124539).

And that's it! You've build, furnished, showed off, updated and uploaded your lot! If you would like to download my Hotel Innovation that I've built for the purposes of this tutorial, it is available HERE (http://www.modthesims.info/download.php?t=414223)