Title:
Construction system for building housing and other shelters
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system and method for constructing housing employs a plurality of base platform sizes and then imposes restrictions on the number and sizes of rooms possible for each platform to develop a uniform building standardization wherein each subcontractor and manufacturer can achieve lower costs by standardization of materials.



Inventors:
Oberpriller, Lon E. (Edina, MN, US)
Mengel, Joseph T. (Eden Prairie, MN, US)
Application Number:
09/730184
Publication Date:
06/06/2002
Filing Date:
12/05/2000
Assignee:
Limited Liability Company
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
434/72, 703/1
International Classes:
G06F17/50; (IPC1-7): E04B1/00; E04G21/00; E04G23/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CANFIELD, ROBERT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VIDAS, ARRETT & STEINKRAUS, P.A. (Eden Prairie, MN, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A construction system for building multiple personalized shelters and homes comprising: (a) a plurality of templates consisting of a predetermined plurality of base platforms of fixed dimensions; (b) a computer programmed to include the templates and all acceptable room numbers and sizes for each template; and (c) display means for displaying a floor plan for each base platform for showing each possible layout of rooms per base platform.

2. A system for standardizing the construction of housing comprising: (a) means for storing a set of templates of a predetermined plurality of base platforms of fixed dimensions; (b) means for generating a set of standardized room sizes; (c) input means for selecting the desired base platform, room sizes and room number; (d) processor means for determining the number of rooms and sizes possible for the selected base platform; and (e) display means for displaying the rooms and sizes for the base platform.

3. A method for constructing multiple personalized homes comprising the steps of: (a) predeterming a plurality of base platforms of fixed dimensions to serve as templates; (b) selecting a base platform template; (c) selecting the number of rooms into which the base platform template is to carry; (d) determining the size of each room desired with each dimension being evenly divisible by two; and (e) constructing said individual personalized home based on the sizes as determined.

4. A method for constructing multiple personalized homes comprising the steps of: (a) predetermining a plurality of base platforms of fixed dimensions to serve as templates; (b) selecting a base platform template; (c) selecting the number of rooms into which the base platform template is to carry; (d) calculating possible room sizes for the base template and filtering out room sizes which result in non-standardized sizes; (e) selecting room sizes from the filtered list; and (e) constructing said home based on the sizes as determined.

5. A system for building multiple personalized shelters utilizing base platforms of fixed dimensions which permits building with interchangeable parts and sub-assemblies.

6. A method for building multiple personalized houses at a lower cost comprising the steps of: (a) selecting a building platform from a pre-defined set of home platforms; (b) preparing floors and ceilings using trusses to eliminate the need for interior load bearing walls; (c) utilizing a standardized set of dimensions to develop the floor plans of room walls, hallways, doors and windows; and (d) assembling the houses using interchangeable parts defined by the predefined set of home platforms and standardized set of dimensions.

7. A method for lowering home building costs comprising the steps of: (a) setting up an organizing group that defines and sets protocols and standards of fixed dimensions for standardized platforms for the housing industry; (b) utilizing said protocols and standards to produce standards for interchangeable parts that will be used on such standardized platforms; (c) preparing a homebuilding plan based on the standardized platforms and interchangeable parts; (d) bringing the interchangeable parts to the building site; (e) bringing assemblers to the building site to assemble the home based on the standardized platform; and (f) assembling the home.

8. A home building process to simplify and reduce costs of construction comprising the steps of: (a) setting up a system of fixed platforms; (b) utilizing truss systems to avoid load bearing interior walls; (c) developing interchangeable standardized components based on said fixed platforms; and (d) utilizing assemblers at the home site to assemble the interchangeable standardized components to said fixed platforms.

9. A home building process to simplify and reduce costs of construction comprising the steps of: (a) establishing a system of fixed platforms from which builders and home buyers select their home foundation; (b) utilizing truss systems to avoid load-bearing interior walls; (c) standardizing components for the fixed platforms to produce interchangeable parts needing less customization for installation; (d) utilizing assemblers to install said standardized components instead of skilled tradesmen; and (e) assembling the house using the fixed platforms selected and interchangeable components with assemblers.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] This invention relates to a system and method for building multiple and individual shelters utilizing base platforms of fixed dimensions to standardize building of housing and other types of shelters with interchangeable parts and sub-assemblies.

[0003] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0004] House building is the seventh largest industry in the United States employing more than 3 million people. It is dominated by the traditional “stick built”, one of a kind approach using various organizations of manufacturers and suppliers. It is organized around independent trade persons and suppliers with each builder usually building fewer than 12 homes per year. Each house is literally built on a trial and error basis with the builder working with custom plans and a bewildering variety of components that vary in size. A simple two foot extension in house width means that the entire house or other shelter may need to be re-calculated for cost, heating and cooling requirements, strength of beams and trusses and the like.

[0005] The standardization of lumber sizes and fasteners began in the first half of the 19th century. By the early 20th century standardized plumbing, heating, cooling, electrical and other fittings became common to the housing industry. “Kit shelters” early in the 20th Century were offered to reduce cost. Often referred to as “factory built”, such homes could arrive as bundles of precut lumber, in sections or in panels. “Modular homes” have been offered late in the 20th Century. They are almost entirely factory built in trimmed out segments or boxes. Plumbing, heating, ventilation and electrical are usually completed on-site. They still require skilled tradesmen and transportation costs are very high.

[0006] The “panelized building systems” are more versatile, using open panels, closed panels and structural insulated panels. Closed panels may include wiring, insulation and a vapor barrier on the inside. Windows and doors are usually cut in at the factory.

[0007] All of these techniques are aimed at reducing cost but suffer from limited economies of scale and limited selection for the consumer.

[0008] Efforts to try to reduce cost in housing include use of full size templates as described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,573,302 to Caretto. Others involve simple standards such as eight foot ceiling heights that dictated sizes for sheetrock. The current popularity of nine and ten foot ceilings has increased the expense of sheet rocking due to additional joints that are required. A system where the manufacturers and trades work together to make custom homes without requiring custom sizes is clearly desirable.

[0009] As one part of a presidential initiative, the NAHB Research Center, Inc. prepared a “Report to the PATH Industry Steering Committee—Recommendations for PATH Technology Roadmapping” in May 2000. That Report discusses modular, whole house approaches and advanced panelized-type systems. The Report responds to and clearly identifies a nationwide need to build houses in a more affordable manner.

[0010] The art described in this section is not intended to constitute an admission that any patent, publication or other information referred to herein is “prior art” with respect to this invention, unless specifically designated as such. In addition, this section should not be construed to mean that a search has been made or that no other pertinent information as defined in 37 C.F.R. § 1.56(a) exists.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0011] The invention provides a system and method for building multiple individualized housing and other shelters at a lower cost by greatly simplifying and limiting the number of parts and standardizing the platforms on which they are installed. The invention relates to an operating system for ordering, organizing and managing shelter construction. The system requires standardization of base platforms, or templates and their suitable foundation sizes and then applies requirements and customer selected options to determine the personalized house they desire. This requires the homeowner to work within size constraints selected from standardized elements that may be reproduced by the selected manufacturers and tradesmen to lower the cost of components and labor. The particular system formula desired can be displayed in virtual reality.

[0012] Base platform and template as used herein refer to the outside dimensions or footprint of the home. While a person could arbitrarily pick a width of 31½ feet, such a size means that most components internally would need to be cut to a non-standard size.

[0013] An example of standardization to date includes bathroom tubs, which are available in several lengths, but are not made to the owner's specification due to prohibitive cost. The same is true for every component in a house. An off sized room means that doors, windows, plumbing connections, flooring and the like must either be adjusted in the field by a skilled tradesman, or must be specially manufactured and stocked in many sizes. This is obviously expensive and undesirable.

[0014] The invention requires little of the home owner. They must simply select from a wide variety of bugetarily acceptable base platforms and then select the number of rooms for each floor of the base platform selected. This can be accomplished in virtual reality. The number of rooms divided into the base platform dictates room sizes to a degree, but the inventive system herein also requires that all room sizes must be evenly divisible by two. This imposes standardization for manufacturers and tradesmen while requiring little of the home owner.

[0015] The invention thus limits the numbers of parts that must be stocked by standardizing the entire home system, not unlike the automobile industry's standardization of platforms and many part sizes that make cars affordable. The system works best with all trussed systems such that no interior walls are load bearing. This greatly simplifies building and allows multiple conduits for mechanicals.

[0016] The system provides greater affordability at all price levels by allowing integration and management of the total home/shelter building process from design to financing. The system organizes strategic businesses through joint ventures/relationship enterprises that lead to the creation of greater consumer value and satisfaction in housing. The system provides an economical integration of specialized or specific skills, i.e., engineers, architects, scientists into mass market construction solutions previously unavailable for any single entity. It allows R & D product formulation, integrated construction packages, and scope and scale efficiencies to accrue to the smaller builder and municipal government while furthering broader and faster dissemination of technical, health and safety and environmental improvements across the entire industry.

[0017] The system creates predictability, durability, dependability and affordability through systemic integration of shared technologies in a platform basis which creates greater efficiencies. Standardization of procedures and protocols allows integration of subcontractors and suppliers as well as simplification of construction plans, documents, material lists and contracts. The simplification provides greater efficiency through central management of processes and procedures which allows evolution from the typical customer or one of a kind solution to mass customization. Documentation and systematization provides a record of subsystems and locations within the house as well as exact costs and responsibilities for more inclusive warranties and insurance packages. Construction data can be preserved and used to perfect techniques applicable to subsequent units.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018] A detailed description of the invention is hereafter described with specific reference being made to the drawings in which:

[0019] FIG. 1 is a flowchart showing how platforms of the invention may be used to dictate a particular home; and

[0020] FIG. 2 is a flowchart showing the components of a drawing package.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0021] Studies show that the vast majority of homes under $250,000, or under 2500 square feet exhibit a limited range of dimensions, with the most typical width being 28 feet. By limiting people to certain base platforms, such as 28×36, the builder and owner can accurately and quickly pick their choice of rooms, layout, sizes and build-outs while achieving cost control. For example, the amount of siding needed would be known precisely from the selected platform size and could be ordered immediately. The windows could be chosen for that given size based on a limited number of sizes, all going into predetermined rough-openings (RO) built into the walls at a factory. The windows can then be installed into the RO with attachment mechanisms from the window manufacturer, who could design quick connects that could allow later removal and upgrades as the years pass. Pre-installed runs of electric cables could be made, as well as audio/video/network wiring. Knowing the base platform in advance fixes where the heating plant would be as well as its size and plenum runs. Truss construction allows the plenums to be hidden out of sight.

[0022] The base platform can be subdivided into 4, 5 or 6 rooms. In smaller houses, hallway use is minimized since it is inefficient use of space. Thus, room dimensions can be selected and limited easily. Once set in all the designated range of templates, flooring companies could know the maximum dimensions and provide carpeting with less seaming needed.

[0023] A predetermined plurality of size classes of base platforms of fixed dimensions is created that serve as templates to work as a standard in dimensioning the other building components of each class of home. Platform sizes of small, medium, large and extra large may be designated, with each class size catering to a different financial situation for the prospective home buyer. Within each class, a plurality of platform sizes are available. Thus, the most common platform bases are currently 28×28, 28×32, 28×36, all generally square or mildly elongated rectangles. Platforms may be stacked to any desired number of floors or arranged adjacent to each other for single story structures.

[0024] Within those common base platforms, typically the base is divided into 4, 5 or 6 main areas with hallways, closets and the like chosen for individual desires of space utilization. None of these rooms will be one foot wide and 28 feet long. Certain human need practicalities are implicit. However, simply limiting the home buyer to avoid odd sizes imposes almost unnoticeable limits while greatly simplifying the building problems. Thus, a rule that no main area dimension may be unevenly divisible by two prevents a room size of 10½ feet which is not even noticeable to the owner. Such rules mean that all subcontractors can deal with uniform dimensions for room sizes. Cabinet makers can stock and carry cabinets of only certain dimensions rather than having to custom make a piece to account for an extra seven inches designed in by a builder that does not use this inventive system. Heating contractors can go to the job with pre-cut runs of ducting since the plans would enable stocking of standard lengths.

[0025] The invention provides a greatly reduced number of room sizes that are available such that manufacturers can prepare materials for stock sizes, instead of making one size that must be custom worked in the field. A standard internal wall that would be eight feet high by ten feet long could be completely pre-built in a factory to include all services, including studs, wiring, outlets and sheetrock that has been taped. Installation in the field would no longer require the services of skilled craftsmen. Instead, semiskilled laborers under the direction of a single skilled worker could quickly assemble the components at a great savings in labor costs in addition to lower component cost.

[0026] The flowchart of FIG. 1 shows the steps involved in the method of using a platform to calibrate a home. The system employs the methodology which is used in connection with a computer and suitable programming that will keep the databases of base platform sizes, acceptable room sizes and can calculate the room sizes that work with the base platform and display each of the resulting possible floor layouts. Block 100 shows that the first step involves selection of a base platform or template from a database of chosen base platforms. The next step as shown in block 110 is to select the desired number of rooms for that floor or base platform. Next, as shown in block 120, calculations are made to determine the possible room sizes that will work with the selected base platform. The database of limited and predetermined room sizes imposes restrictions on the allowable sizes. The limitations may require the room sizes to be evenly divisible by two such that a dimension of ten feet is allowed, but 11 is not. In addition, rules may be imposed such as disallowing any room dimension less than three feet.

[0027] After the calculations have filtered out room sizes that will not work, the results may be displayed to show the base platform and acceptable room sizes as shown in block 130.

[0028] The base platforms of fixed dimensions of the invention are integrated with appropriate standardized foundation elements and appropriately sized systems of floor and roof trusses. Kitchens, bathrooms, stairways and dormer subassemblies can be sized for each class size of base platform as desired. In addition, the insulation, siding, roofing, plumbing, heating, cooling, ventilation, health and safety, wiring and trim can all achieve cost savings due to the system and methods of the invention.

[0029] The present invention utilizes a database that may be manipulated by the user to design a house or other shelter, size and arrange its rooms and decorate the rooms. A design module may be overlaid with a CAD module that would permit graphic modification to any design in the design module. The database provides information to the design module about the common features, standard data, previously input information and constraints. The database is modified and supplemented by initial user input, user created standards and part modifications.

[0030] The design module information may be output to a visual output module that displays the design on a video display and/or printer. A detailing module may perform calculations of useful information such as labor costs and bills of material utilizing the information from the design module.

[0031] The database includes a system database that includes data common to all jobs and a job database that includes data for the specific project at hand. The system database includes the essential design information for sitework, foundation, framing, exterior walls, roofing, interior specialties, mechanical and electrical systems, residential building types, exterior wall construction, residential configurations and residential garage types, data on square foot costs, assembly costs and location cost factors. The job database is initially empty and is progressively filled with data selected from the system database. The job database includes information as to room sizes and configurations as well as locations and sizes of fixed objects in the rooms.

[0032] The system then moves to a placement function, which may be displayed in a three dimensional mode, a wall placement mode or a plan view placement mode. Each mode provides the indicated view corresponding to the arrangement of the floor platform or room.

[0033] During the placement function, the user selects the room layout arrangements and the placement room layout arrangements and the placement and dimensions of major locational restraints such as doorways, windows and appliances. The visual output function displays the relevant information on a video display or to a printer as desired. In the three dimensional mode, icons are called form the job database and the system database provides a catalogue of available custom parts. The process of customized creation of particular features of rooms or of houses, from a vast array of possibilities in the database is an example of a user selected standard. The user can compile a personalized design of any combination of parts used in producing the home. The personalized design is stored in the database and used in the detailing operation.

[0034] An override parts function may be provided in the event that the system did not include a modification proposed by a user. The user created standards function permits modification of previously defined standards and the override parts function may permit new standards. The modifications are introduced to the job database and thereafter the modification is included in all further design modifications, detailing, pricing and display.

[0035] The system may also include a listing of each part required for the assembly of the home. The types of components are provided by the design module and the required parts are in the database. This information is used to compile a summary of all parts required.

[0036] This list includes a full parts listing of every required piece of material and hardware to construct the residence. A materials requirement routine determines the number of standard pieces of material that must be purchase to provide the necessary material for the job. The material requirement and the hardware requirements together provide a bill of materials.

[0037] The system database also includes a list of standard purchase prices for every material and item of hardware. The total cost of material and hardware is easily calculated after all components have been selected. Labor costs and total hours of labor for each assembly step required to produce the home are determined from the design of the home and the standards in the database. Standard hours of labor required to perform the various operations are determined from the experience of prior builders and input of that data into the systems database. The standard hours of labor are used in conjunction with the data from the design module and materials lists to calculate the number of hours of labor required and the total labor cost.

[0038] The sum of the material and labor costs is the total job cost. Profit is added to yield a total job estimate. At the completion of a job, the actual labor and material usage can be compared with the projected values to determine sources of error and permit refinement of the standard values used in future job cost analysis. These values in turn are entered into the database.

[0039] Each base platform can be used to make a great number of base designs, each of which in turn may be expressed as a different type or collection. For example, a 24×28 base platform could easily be expressed as a “City Collection” of 10-15 base designs for urban and suburban locations; a “Country Collection” of 5-10 base designs in a more rural setting and an “Affordable Collection” of 10-15 base designs distilled down into urban settings with simplified options and reduced detail.

[0040] Within each collection each base design will have a distinguishing architectural identity which develops from the core platform systems, such as the foundation, wall panels, floor trusses and Mechanicals/Electricals/Plumbing (MIE/P). The architectural character is simply developed through exterior elevations and materials to establish the desired identity. Interior cabinetry, millwork, finishes and fixtures provide diversity. Supplemental architectural elements provide diversity such as porches, horizontal expansions (master suite, guest suite), garages, storage out buildings or enclosures, fencing, mail boxes, fenestration and detail patterns within a given architectural character. Each base unit within a collection will have its own range of developments.

[0041] A drawing package for a particular house from a collection could include the following:

[0042] *—site/house specific document

[0043] p—platform basis document

[0044] * Site Plan/Survey Site/soil documentation/testing

[0045] * Landscape plan and plant materials schedule

[0046] p—Landscape spec and installation guidelines

[0047] p—Lower Level Plan (Architectural/Reference Overview)

[0048] p—Level One Framing Plan—Component, assembly drawings

[0049] p—Mechanical Plan—Spec's, assembly drawings

[0050] p—Plumbing Plan—Spec's, assembly drawings

[0051] p—Electrical Plan—Spec's, assembly drawings

[0052] *—Finish Plans—Finish Sched. and specs, floor/wall/ceilings

[0053] p—Level One Plan (Architectural/Reference Overview)

[0054] p—Level One Framing Plan—Component, assembly drawings

[0055] p—Mechanical Plan—Spec's, assembly drawings

[0056] p—Plumbing Plan—Spec's, assembly drawings

[0057] p—Electrical Plan—Spec's, assembly drawings

[0058] *—Finish Plans—Finish Sched. and specs, floor/wall/ceilings

[0059] p—Level Two Plan—Same as Level One above

[0060] *Roof Plan

[0061] specs

[0062] roof truss components

[0063] assembly drawings

[0064] p—Sections—(Architectural/Reference Overview)

[0065] Longitudinal and Lateral—component, assembly drawings

[0066] *—Elevations—(Architectural/Reference Overview)

[0067] p—wall component and assembly drawings

[0068] *—window details—Sched/spec, assembly drawings

[0069] *—siding /trim details—Spec, assembly drawings

[0070] *—Millwork Package

[0071] *—Cabinetry Package

[0072] FIG. 2 shows the components of a drawing package as described above in a chart form.

[0073] The basis of the system is approaching homebuilding from the outside in. That is, instead of looking at a home in the conventional terms of how many rooms are desired and building the house from the inside out, the buyer would select a home based on which of the many fixed platforms will be in their price range and be capable of carrying the rooms, sizes and features they desire. By forcing the home buyers to drop custom features that they don't even appreciate, the builder is able to attain economies of scale by eliminating custom choices that require expensive skilled craftsman and expensive materials. Once the platform is selected, the buyer selects the number of rooms desired and places the non-load bearing walls. Since the mechanicals are all based on the selected platform, they can be ordered up and delivered at least partially prefabricated which greatly lowers their cost and also makes the installation possible by lower skilled (and paid) assemblers.

[0074] The unique operating system of fixed dimensional parts calibrated to fixed platforms is characterized as follows:

[0075] The platform horizontal space is an X, Y orthogonal area whose dimensions are determined by the size choice of X and Y.

[0076] Any desired dimensions of X and Y may be selected to provide space for particular uses.

[0077] Once fixed, the X and Y dimensions indicate satisfactory orthogonal dimensions, which are likewise fixed by the space requirements of specific needs.

[0078] The orthogonal dimensions X, Y, Z define the wall area of a box, and indicate the appropriate dimensions for the box top.

[0079] The box top (roof) are is defined by the size of the X and Y coordinates as modified by the pitch (slope or slopes) one selects.

[0080] Any desired number of boxes may be stacked or arranged laterally.

[0081] The size values of X, Y, Z and box top (roof) area serve primary determinants of materials costs through defining the areas involved and indicating the scope of the stresses to be resisted. Basement type, and extent also enter the cost picture specified by the other dimensions and the soil conditions on site.

[0082] In practical terms “small”, “medium”, and “large” define appropriate box/roof sizes to meet the budgets available for construction.

[0083] Once the size of the box/roof is fixed the dimensionality of all component material parts is calibrated to this size.

[0084] Once material dimensionality is fixed and space dimensionality is established, parts become interchangeable between members of each size class of boxes. Collections of houses/shelters may require many thousands of parts.

[0085] In these fixed circumstances and composite components parts may be manufactured in quantity anywhere and simply assembled on job site, allowing reduction in waste control of dimensional creep, quality control and increased safety to the assemblers as well as conservation in time for the entire assembly.

[0086] Once dimensionalities are fixed it is readily apparent that houses/shelters can be regarded as interactive systems of systems which can be engineered as parts or as composites.

[0087] Every element in the house/shelter system is understood in terms of the whole—in terms of the desired operating system made possible by the claimed technique.

[0088] Any variation in the whole has consequences for the integrated parts; any change in the elements affects the whole, thus standardization is necessary to achieve the economies of scale unobtainably by one of a kind construction.

[0089] The operating system of fixed dimensions calibrated to a fixed platform may be designed and engineered to any desired level of complexity using parts of any desired materials, and level of quality, character, or workmanship.

[0090] The replication of elements allows for standard classes of structures sharing known characteristics and costing established amounts thus defining replicable finance/insurance levels and allowing easy diffusion of latest technologies and health/safety methodologies.

[0091] The box/top structure may be clothed in any desired, esthetically satisfactory kinds and styled types of materials, allowing mass personalization of what would otherwise be fully mass produced structures. Lack of personalization has been a drawback to most types of “manufactured” housing.

[0092] Use of pre-engineered truss systems in floors and roofs eliminates the need for load-bearing interior walls, allowing personalized choice of space utilization; more than one interior space use may be desired as successive generations of tenants occupy a given house/structure during the century or so of its existence.

[0093] Use of the claimed construction methodology brings the efficiencies of scale to bear in the construction of hundreds of thousands of houses/shelters produced every year. This brings innumerable advantages to individuals, municipalities and the nation, which have hitherto been chained to inflexible, out of date, wasteful, and more dangerous construction techniques to produce the nexus of our civilization—the house and similar structures.

[0094] While this invention may be embodied in many different forms, there are shown in the drawings and described in detail herein specific preferred embodiments of the invention. The present disclosure is an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the invention to the particular embodiments illustrated. Use of the terms homes, houses and housing herein is intended to include all types of shelters.

[0095] This completes the description of the preferred and alternate embodiments of the invention. Those skilled in the art may recognize other equivalents to the specific embodiment described herein which equivalents are intended to be encompassed by the claims attached hereto.