What Are Sweeps?

Episode 37: Welcome to the She Builds Show, I’m your host, Stefanie Olson. The title of today’s episode is, What are sweeps? We recently broke ground on a new build, one of our project managers was talking with the vendor and talking about sweeps. There was a long discussion about it, and it got me to thinking that we have so much verbiage in our industry that most of the public has no idea what we’re talking about. So my goal today is to try to close that gap and give you some awareness of the process of a new build and what needs to be done and… Yes. Answer what sweeps are.

Ready? Let’s go…


•  I know it sounds weird, but I met the concrete guy is super early in the morning, and the first thing we do is decide the height of the slab based upon the grade, and in our instance, fall to the plumbing system. So fall is referring basically to how the poop goes downhill, and it’s just a nice way of saying it. We basically need to take into account the fall between our bathrooms, in our instance, a septic system to make sure that our slab is high enough to create enough fall. So, we determine that, and then after this, we locate the property corners. So, property corners are placed by an engineer who comes out and does a survey, they read the description on your deed, they locate the points, and then they place what’s called monuments in the ground. The monument is just a giant stake in the ground, usually with a yellow top on it and a little flag thing, and most of the time they’re hidden and really hard to find, so it’s always a really fun game of hide and seek to find the property corners.  (01:42)

• So once we lay it out, I stand there and I just take it in, I try to pause and just look around. I look at my floor plan, I look at the placement on the lot, I look at the view, I look at the parking, I look at the garage and the driveway and the set backs and where the windows will be facing and what will they be looking at. So, this placement and the decision around it or permanent, you can’t move the house after you decide its position. So I just take some time and I make sure that it’s where it should be. I make sure that what they’re going to be looking at is beautiful. Often times I will actually move the house. So they’ll lay it out regionally where the engineer and architect had put it on the floor plan. And because there’s wiggle room in some of the lots I do, because we’re far enough away on a set backs, I’ll usually move the house back or forward or to the side just to adjust for the environment and how a family will eventually use the home. So once the placement is finale, they take chalk in this long black tube and it has holes at the bottom and they walk along the tape measure to draw out the floor plan and draw out the layout of the house with chalk in the dirt. Fun, right? I’m always like, Can I chalk it out?  (04:05)

•  So usually in that instance, you will see a large gray pipe coming out of the ground, it’s called conduit, and it’s running on the outside of the wall, on the exterior of the wall, up into a large electrical panel, this is super ghetto and ugly. Nobody wants to see conduit and an electrical panel mounted on the outside of their home. That’s usually what happens when you have an old home and electrical needs to be updated, they just slap electrical conduit in the panel on the outside of the house. I think it looks ugly. So in order to avoid that, we don’t want that on a new home and we can prep for it, so what we do is we bend a five-foot piece of large, gray conduit basically into the shape of an L, and we place it inside the footing, going up inside the 2 x 6 walls, and then also going on the outside, hopefully you can kind of visualize this, this is a sweep… It’s not a broom, it’s basically an electrical conduit, making sure that we can pull electrical wire from the outside to the inside wall of the house so that there is no panel or electrical conduit mounted on the outside, it ensures that it’s hidden inside the finished walls and the electrical panel is inset between the steps. It’s finished. It’s nice, it’s clean. It makes me happy. (05:59)

•  So the electrician usually sets the conduit. Now, after that we have the framer come in and hang his hold downs. Now, these are just giant metal stakes that the engineer calls out in certain areas of the home, and they get placed inside the concrete footing and they’re kind of suspending in air so that the bottom part will be in the concrete, and then the top part will stick out enough for the framer to eventually mount the walls to the concrete. Their job is to hold down the house to the slab… Sick, right? So we have this sweeps in and we’ve got the hold downs, and after that, when we do a slab, we have to make sure the plumbing is already to go. So the plumber comes for the waste, which is your black ABS pipe and installs that and lays it out for each bathroom and sink. He goes through the whole floor plan and he lays the plumbing pipes, when you do a slab, plumbing is inside the concrete. So in order for us to pass what is called the footing inspection, we have to make sure all footings are cleaned, the sweeps are in, and the plumbing is filled with water and passes what’s called a wet set test. (07:29)


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