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Fallout 4: How to Build and Maintain Settlements, Happiness Ratings

Plant crops and put up defenses to keep Settlers happy.
This article is over 8 years old and may contain outdated information

The Fallout 4 Workshop feature gives players the opportunity to create their own buildings and settlements using the loot and materials gathered while exploring the irradiated landscape. Because of the complexity involved, this feature includes instructions on how to build and then protect your Fallout 4 settlement. Learn the basics and you’ll be on your way to creating a relatively normal existence for the game’s non-player characters. 

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Using the Workshop

Within an hour of playing Fallout 4 (unless you spent three hours customizing your character), the game offers players the chance to create a home base; both the player and NPC survivors can live there. Users can create a Settlement near a Workshop location. They can then build and move things within the green Workshop area. Naturally this person must find the necessary materials in order to build whatever he or she desires, and there’s only so much they can build within a designated area. 

Start by walking into the Workshop near your home at Sanctuary Hills (what’s left of it) at the beginning of the game. Open the Workshop interface and then walk to where you want to build. Things you can save or destroy are outlined in green, while broken objects are highlighted yellow. We suggest scrapping all of these yellow items while hanging on to the green ones.

When you have the proper amount of materials, it’s time to build! Explore the Workshop tabs and make note of the items available. Each item will display the required number of components in order to craft it. If you still need something, tag the missing component(s). You’ll see a magnifying glass icon near items containing the desired item(s).

You’re free to place objects anywhere within the green boundary of the Workshop. If you see red, you’ll need to reposition the object or find level ground. If you place an object and then decide to move it, select this item and then put it where you want inside of the boundary. Whatever you do, avoid scrapping the object. Reason being, doing so results in a smaller number of components than you initially used to build it. You can simply stash the unwanted object at the Workshop. Perhaps you’ll need it later.

Maintaining Settlements

After building a Settlement, most likely at Sanctuary, you’ll need to meet your settlers’ needs. These people will make themselves at home and request your help with a few tasks. Bethesda designed it this way so you become familiar with the basics of maintaining a Settlement. 

The first thing to do is figure out how many settlers arrived. Additionally you want to keep an eye on Food, Water, Power, Defense, Beds and Happiness. The color of each category denotes its current status. 

Understanding Settlement Happiness 

In Fallout 4, survival equates to happiness. Settlers posses a Happiness rating, and you want to make sure their needs are met. This involves having enough beds, food, water, defense and power for everyone in the community. 


Each settler needs a bed, otherwise they become moody. Access the Workshop and go through the types of beds, then place these beds within the designated area. You don’t have to build new homes. Instead, put beds in existing structures to avoid wasting resources. Settlers will then automatically go to sleep when they’re nearby. Even you can nap to replenish health.


People still need to eat, so gather corn and melons while you’re out, then plant them in order to produce food for everyone; planting also ensures you’ll have a regenerating source of food. Walk over to some dirt and grow your crops in this location. Go into the Workshop, then tab over to Resources and Food. Pick an item in your inventory and then select Build to plant it. 

To harvest food, assign a settler to the crop. While in the Workshop, approach someone and select Command. From there, walk to the crop you want this person to harvest and choose Assign. This will increase the Food rating for this particular settlement.


Clean water is hard to come by in the wasteland. Settlers need the wet stuff to survive, so it’s important to give them a water source. While in the Workshop, tab over to Resources and select Water. Choose the Water Pump and find somewhere to place it. You will need concrete to put down a Water Pump, so scrap unwanted items to acquire the proper components. 


Certain objects such as lights, fans and water purifiers require power. Before creating these things, first build a generator. Go into the Workshop interface, tab over to the Power section and select Generator. Now find a good spot to build it. Fallout 4 contains a variety of generators, differing in power output and resource cost.  We think it’s a good idea to put the generator near a house or building.

There’s still more to do. In order for the generator to provide juice to the grid, you must build a power pylon and then place this item near the item that requires power to operate. Highlight the generator and press Attach Wire. This connects a wire from the generator to the pylon, causing the latter to power light fixtures and electrical objects within range. Remember, generators only have so much power to go around. Furthermore, you may need to move the pylon to different areas until the object begins working. 


You don’t receive automatic protection after building a settlement. It’s your job to protect everyone, so access the Workshop and then select Defense. This brings up a list of defensive objects, things like turrets and guard posts. While on the subject of guard posts, you must assign someone to them, similar to harvesting crops. Otherwise it won’t count towards your defense rating, which you should keep green at all times. Otherwise you leave the settlement open to attack. Unmanned turrets operate on their own, but you will need to find more resources to build them. 

Settlement Tips 

  • Although you can build a settlement around a Workshop, scrapped materials can only be stored and used at a specific area near that Workshop; no teleporting. If for some reason you cannot find materials to build something, you’ll need to do some traveling to find the necessary items and bring them back. 
  • Certain perks help make gathering resources easier. Open the Perk Chart and look at the Intelligence category. The Scrapper perk lets you take screws and copper from discarded armor. It’s a great way to get rid of bulky pieces of armor.
  • After getting your settlement up and running, build a Radio Beacon to attract more people. Doing this means having more beds, food and other resources to maintain Happiness. Therein lies the challenge, but so long as you follow the steps in this article, you should have little trouble keeping everyone in good spirits.

Complete main quests and find collectibles with Prima’s Fallout 4 Walkthrough.

Go aboveground with confidence! The Collector’s Edition Strategy Guide is your ultimate Wasteland companion, stuffed with walkthroughs, maps, strategies, and reference data. Unlock the searchable Fallout 4 eGuide (also included with every print guide) for access to interactive maps and updated content!

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