I'm going to tell you a secret. I don't only play The Sims 4 to perform questionable experiments (opens in new tab) on unsuspecting sims families (opens in new tab). I also love building houses. I'm not great at it, but I can usually build from a blueprint or from memory—but it's nothing compared to the incredible, detailed work from many builders out there.
This intricate What Remains of Edith Finch build from YouTuber JessHarts is no exception. She completed it after replaying the entire game, taking hundreds of pictures, sketching multiple floor plans, and spending 14 hours building and decorating both the inside and outside of the house. This kind of build uses a lot of advanced building techniques (like adjusting terrain levels and creating L-shaped stairs, which thanks to a recent game update is a lot easier) and several essential cheats.
If you have played What Remains of Edith Finch or at least seen screenshots of the home, then you know it's a cluttered mess with objects placed close together. The home is in a remote area of the mountains, with trees, logs, and rocks that overlap. It's impossible to replicate that look without turning on bb.moveobjects, which unlocks any objects from being placed on the ridged—and sometimes awkward—grid formation that rules over the entire build and buy modes. That makes it hard for sims to move around properly inside the home, but JessHarts' intention was form over function.
Additionally, bb.showliveeditobjects gives you access to the entire catalog of environmental objects (or the Debug menu) you see throughout the towns but can't use in your own builds without it enabled. Pressing Shift + [ or ] resizes objects, and holding down Alt while moving around objects allows you to place objects off the grid slightly.
In JessHarts' case, her goal with this build was accuracy and aesthetics over functionality, as some objects will block a sims' path to things like the secret passages, but the house is functional enough for sims to live in without getting blocked by an invisible wall while trying to get to the fridge before they starve to death.
"I'd write down some ideas or make a mental note of 'maybe this certain item could be manipulated to look like another one,' or how there's a fallen tree over the road towards Edith's house," said JessHarts. "I knew I briefly saw one in the Debug menu, so I scoured through that to find it. If I see some things that I think could work well in other areas, I'll place them down in that area so I don't need to find them again."
Every object in the Debug menu is currently uncategorized. That makes it super difficult to go back and find things, so I've personally used the same approach when coming across objects I wanted to use on lots I've built from scratch.
Knowing your way around all the build tools and cheats definitely helps any build, but it's only the beginning of the process. Like an architect in the real world, preparation is key. A well-drawn plan makes the building process so much easier when you're in the middle of it—especially with a huge, complex build like the Edith Finch house.
From her speed build video, she tweaks the terrain levels before she starts placing the outside initial staircases into the lot, which is a 64x64 lot, the largest in the game—great for building a house that's nestled into a dense, scenic landscape. Not only does this make sense from a planning perspective, but the game will not let you change terrain levels and move around staircases easily once everything has been placed. Additionally, you have to flatten every spot where you want to place an enclosed room or stairs.
Terrain tools have been the hardest thing for me to get a handle on in The Sims 4, but JessHarts makes it look so easy in her speed build. But, What Remains of Edith Finch is not just about the detailed terrain outside the home. It's about the Winchester-esque house itself with rooms turned into heartbreaking shrines to Edith's ancestors. This is where JessHarts' attention to detail really shines.
"Every time I'd get into a new room or section, I'd first take a photo of the flooring and walls, because when creating homes I tend to forget those details, and you really need to know them to make the whole thing come together."
And there is a ton of detail in the Edith Finch house. From a living room overflowing with books and knickknacks, to secret passageways, to a different personality for every single room in the house—it's easy to see the kind of documentation needed to make a near-exact replica.
And JessHarts didn't look up any blueprints or layouts that might be similar to the Edith Finch house, either. She wanted to make things as true to the game as possible, and that took a lot of experimentation and drawing her own plans. One of the trickiest parts was creating seven floors, because you can technically only build up to four floors in The Sims 4 above ground and four below. But thanks to a recent update, Sims 4 builders can now can choose how far up in the sky to build certain rooms without a foundation. This allowed her to built an extension onto the second floor and then cut the connection between this tiny section and the main house.
"When doing these levels you always want to mess around and see what fits, especially if you have multiple stair landings like [Lewis' room] does. The trick is all practice. But knowing that a staircase needs four levels in between landings to work, doesn't hurt either," said JessHarts.
From there, she built on top of Lewis's room to make Dawn's and Edith's, which got her to seven total floors.
There are a few types of hidden doors in The Sims 4, which comes in handy for creating secret passageways. There are doors that resemble bookcases, for instance, but nothing that quite matches exactly what's in What Remains of Edith Finch.
Additionally, using the move objects cheat to place things can prevent sims from accessing the secret passages. But unlike Edith Finch, sims don't crawl around, which is what you have to do to reach some of the passages. Even still, JessHarts found ways to make the secret passages as accurate as possible, focusing on aesthetics over function.
There are three main passageways on the second floor, one between the pink bathroom and Sam and Calvin's room, another between Molly and Walter's room, and the last between Sam/Calvin's and Barbara's room. JessHarts sometimes used doggy doors for the passages, but for Barbara's room, she removed some walls to make room for a faux trunk made out of chopping boards. In Sam and Calvin's room, she was able to use the secret bookcase door since there is an actual bookcase door behind Calvin's bed.
"I used some downsized gates to act as the little doors to the wine cabinet. This was the trickiest of all the secret passageways."
She also individually placed every single bottle you see in the wine cabinet, and—well, literally everything else was meticulously placed, as you will see from her build videos further down the page.
Every room in the Edith Finch house is meticulously detailed, but some are easier replicate in The Sims 4 than others. The Sims 4 has enough stuff between the base game and all its expansions and packs to recreate Lewis' room with the same psychedelic vibe, but it doesn't have a way to directly recreate Sam and Calvin's bedroom with the same forts and bridges built over their beds. For that room, JessHarts used wooden planks from the Debug mode to build the bridge over Calvin's bed, among other items.
"I removed the wall behind it so the shelves wouldn't snap into place and just slid them up to make a faux bridge, and found some railing that curved downwards to act as a rope."
But even though the decorating process took the most innovation, for her it was the best part of building the entire house. The packing peanuts by the front door are downsized pink gems. The spilled popcorn in Barbara's room is actual popcorn from The Sims 4 plus a downsized water balloon bucket—little details like that you might not normally think about if you don't build a lot in The Sims or haven't used the Debug mode to access every single item in the game.
For the pulley elevator in Milton's room she created a hexagon floor with sized down carpets to act as the platform, some poles from the Toddler Stuff pack for the rope, and some downsized ship wheels from the Cats and Dogs expansion pack to be the cogs.
JessHarts is a stickler for detail, that's for sure.
If you want to wander around JessHart's Edith Finch house in The Sims 4 yourself, you can find it by searching her name in the gallery from within the game. You will need nearly every expansion and stuff pack, since the home uses items from the entire Sims 4 lineup (aside from Realm of Magic). Objects and build items won't load in otherwise, but there's no custom content to worry about, so if you have every expansion and pack you can plop Edith's house on a lot and explore.
Also, it costs a whopping 909,647 Simoleons, so be prepared to use cheats like 'motherlode' or 'freeRealEstate On' if you want your sims to live in Edith's house. Not every room is functional either, but many are.
JessHarts has built other iconic homes in The Sims 4, too, like Tarzan's treehouse and the house from the film Mrs. Doubtfire, all of which you can find in the gallery and on her YouTube page. Be sure to check them out, and her speed build videos below.