Title:
Modular building system and componentry
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A multi-dispositional, modular, building-structure component including (a) an elongate body having a long axis, and a substantially constant and consistent trans-axial cross-sectional configuration distributed along the body's long axis, with the body possessing at least one planar facial expanse having (1) opposite sides, and (2) spaced, opposite, lateral edges, (b) at least one generally rectangular, elongate, box-like channel extending along the component's long axis adjacent and joined to one of the body's expanse's opposite sides, and (c) a pair of elongate, laterally spaced, interconnect-accommodating flanges joined to and extending along the body's expanse's opposite lateral edges, occupying spaced, generally parallel planes which are disposed generally normal to the plane of the facial expanse.



Inventors:
Crowell, James H. (Lake Oswego, OR, US)
Application Number:
11/249918
Publication Date:
05/11/2006
Filing Date:
10/12/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04C2/38
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
FIGUEROA, LUZ ADRIANA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JON M. DICKINSON, P.C. (PORTLAND, OR, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A multi-dispositional, modular, building-structure component comprising an elongate body having a long axis, and a substantially constant and consistent trans-axial cross-sectional configuration distributed along said axis, said body including (a) at least one planar facial expanse having opposite sides and spaced, opposite, lateral edges, (b) at least one generally rectangular, elongate, box-like channel extending along said axis adjacent and joined to one of said opposite sides of said expanse, and (c) a pair of elongate, laterally spaced, interconnect-accommodating flanges joined to and extending along said expanses said opposite lateral edges, and extending in spaced, generally parallel planes which are disposed generally normal to the plane of said expanse.

2. The component of claim 1 which has trans-axial, cross-sectional, orthogonally-related dimensions that are similar to one another.

3. The component of claim 2, wherein said component is beam-like in configuration.

4. The component of claim 2 which is structurally configured in a manner which enables it to function in a building structure as any one of (a) a column, (b) a rafter, (c) a beam, and (d) a joist.

5. The component of claim 4 which includes plural channels designed to receive and support different categories of building infrastructure.

6. The component of claim 5, wherein at least one of said channels is constructed to function per se as a liquid-carrying conduit.

7. The component of claim 1 which has trans-axial, cross-sectional, orthogonally-related dimensions that are substantially dissimilar to one another.

8. The component of claim 7, wherein said component has a flat, panel-like configuration.

9. The component of claim 7 which is structurally configured in a manner which enables it to function in a building structure as any one of (a) sub-floor structure, (b) finished floor structure, (c) interior wall structure, (d) sheathing structure, (e) ceiling structure, (f) roofing structure, and (g) exterior siding structure.

10. The component of claim 9 which includes plural channels designed to receive and support different categories of building infrastructure.

11. The component of claim 10, wherein at least one of said channels is constructed to function per se as a liquid-carrying conduit.

12. The component of claim 1 which is formed from a composite material including cooperative, distributed strand and binder structures.

13. The component of claim 12, wherein said strand structure includes natural fibre material.

14. The component of claim 12, wherein said binder structure takes the form of a polymer material.

15. The component of claim 1 which is structured whereby it offers utility in an overall building structure in a manner whereby its long axis may lie in any one of (a) a vertical plane, (b) a horizontal plane, and (c) a plane which is angled/inclined relative to both the vertical and the horizontal.

16. The component of claim 15 which (a) with its axis disposed in a vertical plane, presents an attaching channel which is catch-engageable in a horizontal plane, (b) with its axis disposed in a horizontal plane presents an attaching channel which is catch-engageable in a vertical plane, and (c) with its axis disposed in an a first, inclined plane presents an attaching channel which is catch-engageable in a second, inclined plane, where that second, inclined plane is substantially normal to the mentioned first inclined plane.

17. The component of claim 1 which is configured to be installed, at least in part, utilizing an engaging catch structure which is shaped to become releasably caught non-invasively in said at least one box-like channel.

18. A building-structure component comprising an elongate, planar, facial expanse having opposite sides and occupying a first nominal plane, and an elongate, planar, stiffener expanse joined to one of the opposite sides of said facial expanse, and occupying a second nominal plane which is substantially orthogonal relative to said first nominal plane, said facial and stiffener expanses cooperatively forming at least portions of an elongate, laterally outwardly facing, box-like channel possessing a laterally accessible, elongate opening which is defined, at least in part, by a pair of spaced, elongate generally co-planar flanges which lie in a third nominal plane that is generally parallel-planar with respect to one of said first and second nominal planes.

19. The component of claim 18, wherein said facial and stiffener expanses form integral portions of an elongate body which has a long axis, and a substantially constant and consistent trans-axial cross-sectional configuration distributed along said axis.

20. The component of claim 18 which is formed from a composite material including cooperative, distributed strand structure and plastic binder structure.

21. The component of claim 20, wherein said strand structure includes natural fiber material.

22. The component of claim 20, wherein said binder structure takes the form of a polymer material.

23. The component of claim 1 which takes the form of an extruded structure.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority filing-date benefit to currently pending U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/625,325, filed Nov. 5, 2004, for “Modular Building System and Componentry”. The entire disclosure content of that prior-filed provisional application is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to modular building structure, such as house structure, and in particular to certain unique, elongate, extruded or (pultruded), composite-material building components useable in a very wide-ranging, versatility way in such structure.

Housing demand throughout the world relentlessly calls for progressive innovation to feed the appetite for satisfactory, comfortable, inexpensive, efficiently and simply buildable, environmentally thoughtful housing units, using low-cost and widely available materials and preshaped components offering opportunities for creative and appealing esthetic design.

The present invention directly and very effectively addresses these considerations.

Central to the innovations offered by this invention are two, elongate, differently cross-sectioned, though commonly featured, preferably, though not necessarily, composite-material building components formed by a blend of strand (preferably natural) and plastic binder elements, and prepared, each with uniform and consistent cross sections along their respective lengths via a linear-fabrication methodology, such as extrusion or pultrusion. Extrusion is the less expensive approach of these two, and is thus preferred for most applications. As will be mentioned again later, where strands are employed, it is certainly possible, and acceptable, that they be made out of appropriate non-natural materials. Also, there may be applications where no strands at all may be used.

Each of these components features what can be thought of as being a relatively broad, planar surfacing expanse (called herein a facial expanse), flat on one broad surface side, and joined integrally on the opposite surface side with elongate, orthogonally related, planar, rib-like elements (called stiffener expanses) appropriately shaped to form, preferably, generally rectilinear, box-like, elongate channels. Angularly disposed, integral, elongate flange structures formed selectively on the lateral edges of either one or both of (a) the relatively broad surfacing expanse and (b) the rib-like elements joined therewith, cooperate in the formations of the mentioned channels (both laterally closed and laterally open channels). Especially they aid in accommodating substantially tool-free, rapid-assembly, bayonet-style interconnections, both linearly aligned and orthogonal, between adjacent beam-like and flat-panel-like, elongate building components offered by the invention. The term “elongate” is employed herein with reference specifically to the respective long axes of the two components mentioned so far. Each formed channel may either be fully “closed” (laterally closed) around its long axis, or may include an elongate slot-like opening (laterally open) extending along one exposed side of the channel.

As will be seen, and as has been suggested above, one of these elongate components has a distinctive beam-like characteristic, in that it has an elongate, slender configuration with orthogonally related transverse cross-sectional dimensions which are about the same as one another. These beam-like components offer versatile utility in a building structure, for examples, as beams, columns, rafters and joists, to name a few.

The other elongate component has a distinctive flat-panel-like, or simply panel-like, configuration, in that it possesses orthogonally related, transverse cross-sectional dimensions which are quite dissimilar. This component category offers utility in a building structure, for examples, as floor structure, ceiling structure, interior and exterior wall structure, including sheathing structure and exterior siding structure.

The channels provided in each of these two building components provide convenient ways for receiving and routing various categories of building infrastructure, such as electrical wiring, plumbing, television and Internet cabling, and heating, such as fluid-flow (typically heated water) radiant heating. As will be seen, certain laterally closed channels (also called chases and ways) in these building components may actually be employed not only as reception passages that receive “self-contained” infrastructure, such as plumbing tubing and electrical wiring, but may also be employed directly as fluid-carrying (typically hot-water liquid-carrying) conduits, for example for carrying appropriately circulated heated water throughout a building for radiant building heating purposes.

The invention also features certain special forms of rapid-install connectors shaped to create male/female, bayonet-style (at least partial), easily implemented joinder between the above-outlined two central components and adjacent structures. These connectors, as will become apparent, interact in special ways with the mentioned, open-sided, box-like channels, and with the mentioned flanges which play a role in defining open sides in these channels.

Other connectors which are uniquely shaped to interact with the two main structural elements of this invention are also provided, and will be described below.

In addition to portions (stiffener expanses) of the box-like channels providing load-bearing stiffness in the two principal components offered by the invention, and cooperating with the above-outlined connectors to establish the mentioned male/female bayonet/style joinders, these channels, in an assembled building structure, also provide an overall, intricate, horizontal and vertical and criss-crossing network of interconnecting chases, or ways, for the protected and efficient routing of linearly distributed building infrastructure, such as those several types of infrastructure just mentioned above.

Collectively, the two, principal, elongate components proposed by the present invention typically make up about ninety-plus-percent of the core structural componentry in a building structure such as a house, and normally provide something in excess of about 50-percent of total house building componentry. These same two components also provide substantially all of the protective and guiding infrastructure-routing structure in such a building.

These and other features and advantages which characterize the offerings of the present invention will become more fully apparent as the description which follows is read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary illustration showing, isometrically, a portion of a building structure, such as a private home, which has been constructed utilizing building components and component connectors constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention. This building structure is illustrated with a sufficient number of components removed from view so that the respective versatilities of the key elongate building components made in accordance with this invention may be appreciated.

FIG. 2 is another fragmentary, isometric view of essentially the same building structure which is shown in FIG. 1, with the view of FIG. 2 looking more downwardly on the assembly of building components in this building structure.

FIGS. 3 and 4 are fragmentary, isometric views, presented on a larger scale than that which is employed in FIGS. 1 and 2, showing clearly the construction of an elongate beam-like component proposed by the present invention. More particularly, these two figures illustrate not only this beam-like component, but also two different stages involved in one convenient manner of bayonet-interconnecting a pair of T-interconnecting (orthogonally interconnecting) beam-like components utilizing a special connector which is also made in accordance with the present invention. Infrastructure-carrying and routing channels, chases, or ways are provided in this beam-like component, including one central channel which may, if desired, be employed to carry various utilities (infrastructure), and also to implement various inter-component connections.

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary view, on about the same scale as that which is employed in FIG. 4, illustrating the presence, in the interconnection illustrated in FIG. 4, of a special insert which is employed in a channel in a beamlike component made in accordance with the invention to accommodate the reception and proper positioning of elongate infrastructure, such as wiring, plumbing, etc., for extension along one of the beam channels which are pictured in FIG. 4. Illustrations of such infrastructure are presented in FIG. 5.

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary view of a flat-panel-like building component made in accordance with the present invention, with this component being illustrated on a slightly larger scale than that which is employed in FIGS. 3 and 4. Laterally closed channels (two are shown) provided in this component are especially useful with respect to receiving and routing various forms of building infrastructure, and can actually be employed, as will be explained, directly to carry heat-fluid, such as heated water to furnish radiant heating in a building—in floors, ceiling and walls which are formed by panel-like components.

FIG. 7 is an isolated view of a somewhat J-shaped component, bayonet-style interconnector which may be employed in accordance with the present invention to produce rapidly made and very convenient orthogonal structural interconnections between a beam-like component, such as that pictured in FIGS. 3 and 4, and a flat-panel-like component, such as that illustrated in FIG. 6. FIG. 7 is illustrated on still a larger scale than that which is used in FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a fragmentary, elevational and cross-sectional view specifically picturing the connector of FIG. 7 creating an orthogonal component interconnection like that just mentioned involving a beam-like component and a flat-panel-like component in accordance with practice of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a fragmentary, isometric view illustrating another type of independent connector made in accordance with the present invention. This connector type is useful for producing another illustrated kind of functional interconnection between a beam-like component and a flat panel-like component as proposed by the present invention. FIG. 9 also illustrates the utility of certain lateral flange structures provided on the lateral edges of a flat-panel-like connector to establish linearly aligned, lateral side-by-side between laterally next-adjacent, flat-panel-like components.

FIG. 10 is an isolated, isometric view of still another connector which may be employed in the practice of the present invention to tie together beam-like building components at the ridge line in a structure, such as at the ridge line which appears near the tops of FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 11 shows a small fragment of a modified form of a beam-like component, wherein what is shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 as a central box-like channel in the component has been extruded and thus formed as a completely filled (i.e., there is no central channel) part of the component. Such a modified form of this component may be useful in “column” applications to add anti-buckling strength to the component.

FIGS. 12a, 12b, 12c show, fragmentarily, three different orientations of a bayonet-style inter-component connection involving a beam-like component made in accordance with the invention.

FIGS. 13a, 13b, 13c show, fragmentarily, three different orientations of a bayonet-style inter-component connection involving a panel-like component made in accordance with the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning now to the drawings, and referring first of all to FIGS. 1 and 2, indicated generally and fragmentarily at 20 is a building structure, generally in the form of a residential home, which has been constructed utilizing what are referred to herein as multi-dispositional, modular building-structure components, with these components being operatively and load-transmissively interconnected, at least in part, through special connectors that are all made in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention. As was mentioned above briefly in the descriptions given for FIGS. 1 and 2, these two figures present an image of building 20 from two slightly different isometric points of view.

In accordance with this invention, two, key, elongate building components are employed with great versatility to contribute to about ninety-plus-percent of the entire load-bearing structural organization of building 20. These two different components which, as will shortly be explained, have several important common features that lead to their respective, multi-dispositional versatilities, include (a) an elongate, beam-like component, such as those shown at 22 in FIGS. 1 and 2, and (b) an elongate, flat-panel-like component, such as those shown at 24 in FIGS. 1 and 2.

These two, very versatile, elongate components, the details of which will be described shortly, are formed preferably by extrusion in such a fashion that they possess, along the entireties of their lengths, what are referred to herein as substantially constant and nominally consistent trans-axial cross-sectional configurations as viewed at any point along their respective longitudinal axes. It is therefore the case that these two building components can be formed easily as various-length elongate components, thus to be precisely length-sized for use where appropriate in the assembly of a building, such as the building shown at 20 in FIGS. 1 and 2.

Preferably, though not necessarily, the material which is employed to form these two components is a composite material which includes distributed, natural-fibre strands (strand structure) embedded within an appropriate binder structure, such as a suitable polymer binder material. The incorporated, natural-fibre strands might be drawn, for examples, from the list including wood flour of any type, corn husks, rice husks, grass and wheat. In certain instances, the strand material employed may be made of any suitable non-natural material, such as fiberglass, and in certain other instances, strand material may be omitted entirely. As was just suggested, the binder structure may be any suitable dimensionally stable polymer material, such as a polypropylene material.

The advantages of producing composite extruded materials to be employed in building structures are well known to those generally skilled in the relevant art, and it is thus the case that, with respect to the beam-like and panel-like building components proposed by the present invention, and thinking about the blend of material just suggested above, one can appreciate that the creation and use of components from the specific materials listed results in what may considered to be very ecologically and environmentally friendly end products. When one recognizes the importance of the statement made just above regarding the percentage of structural building componentry which can be handled largely simply the two, key, elongate components of the present invention, one will recognize that a building structure employing these components is, as a whole, a very ecologically and environmentally friendly assemblage. Moreover, with just two core components employable in so many ways, with great versatility in and throughout a building structure in accordance with practice of the present invention, a building made in accordance with uses of these components offers great economic advantages in relation to the demand for fulfilling new building requirements, such as the huge present demand for new and extended residential housing that can be offered at relative low cost.

What will also become apparent from the description of the invention still to follow is that the components of the present invention lend themselves to extremely simple interconnected assembly into a building, thus minimizing the skill levels required on a jobsite to perform building assembly, while at the same time achieving economies in relation to minimizing the time required to assemble a finished building.

Another area of importance associated with the present invention is that it can be used, as will become appreciated, in the construction of a very wide variety of buildings, and with a great deal of precision in assembly, owing to the precision dimensioning qualities and characteristics associated with carefully extruded building materials.

As can be seen in the illustrations provided in FIGS. 1 and 2, beam-like components 22 can function in a building structure as upright columns, as rafters, as a ridge pole, as beams, as joists, and perhaps as other components which will become evident to those skilled in the art. The panel-like components 24 can be employed as sub-floor structure, as finished floor structure, as interior wall structure, as sheathing structure, as ceiling structure, as roofing structure, as siding structure, and perhaps in other ways, also well within the thinking of those generally skilled in the building construction art. The special features of the proposed beam-like and flat panel-like components which endow them with multi-faceted utility in accordance with the invention will now become more fully apparent as these specific components are more fully detailed and described.

Accordingly, turning attention now especially to FIGS. 3-6, inclusive, along with FIGS. 1 and 2, FIGS. 3 and 4 illustrate the details of each beam-like component 22, as well as how two of these beam-like components may be joined orthogonally to one another through a connector proposed in accordance with the invention FIG. 5 illustrates a sub-component offered by the invention to utilize what will be referred to herein as a box-like channel in a beam-like component 22 to receive and contain long runs of building infrastructure, such as wiring and plumbing structure. FIG. 6 focuses attention on the configurational features of flat panel-like component 24.

Focusing attention on FIGS. 3 and 4 which illustrate a pair of beam-like components 22, these two beam-like components will now be referred to in these two figures as the left and the right beam components. The right beam component is pictured in these two figures in such a manner that the uniform (along the entire length) transverse cross-sectional configuration is clearly pictured, which configuration, as can be observed, is essentially bilaterally symmetrical with respect to the component's long axis which is shown by a dash-dot line at 22a. This consistent and uniform cross-sectional configuration, which offers, somewhat, the appearance of a double-laterally-spaced-central web, I-beam configuration, includes upper and lower (in these two figures) broad, planar facial expanses 22b, 22c. These expanses lie in spaced, substantially parallel nominal planes, such as the planes shown at 26, 27 in dash-double-dot lines in these figures for facial expanses 22b, 22c, respectively. Also included are two laterally spaced central webs 22d, 22e which are planar in nature, and which occupy spaced, parallel, nominal planes that lie a distance apart B of about 1⅝-inches.

These planar central webs are also referred to herein as stiffener expanses, and as can be seen clearly in FIGS. 3 and 4, they, along with facial expanses 22b, 22c, effectively form what are referred to herein as three, generally rectangular, elongate, box-like channels, including a laterally closed central channel 28, and a pair of laterally open lateral channels 30, 32. Central channel 28 is closed on four sides in a fashion circumsurrounding long axis 22a, whereas channels 30, 32 take the forms of laterally outwardly facing, open-sided channels, in each of which only three sides are effectively closed, with laterally outwardly facing sides only partially closed off by pairs of sub-flanges, such as the two sub-flanges shown at 34 in FIGS. 3 and 4. These sub-flanges, which are also referred to herein as interconnect-accommodating flanges, extend from the outer edges, or extremities, of elongate facial expanses 22b, 22c toward one another generally in a shared, or common, plane, such as plane 36 which substantially parallels and is spaced from a central plane 38 for component 22, which central plane contains long axis 22a.

As can be seen, the portions of facial expanses 22b, 22c which extend outwardly away (facial-expanse extensions) from central webs 22c, 22d, have somewhat stepped, transverse, cross-sectional configurations. These facial-expanse extensions along with sub-flanges 34, collectively form what are referred to herein as lateral, interconnect-accommodating flanges.

The three box-like channels mentioned above, with respect to each of the two facial expanses, 22b, 22c are referred to as lying on the opposite sides of those portions of the facial expanses which are outwardly facing and substantially flat-surfaced in nature. And, as was mentioned above, sub-flanges, such as those two sub-flanges shown at 34, are said to lie adjacent the opposite lateral edges of facial expanses 22b, 22c.

Still referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, it will be evident that what are referred to herein as the orthogonally related, trans-axial, cross-sectional dimensions, shown at A and C in FIG. 3, are similar in size, with these dimensions each being, in the illustration of the invention now being described, about 6-inches. The thicknesses of central webs 22c, 22d, shown at D, are similar, and are each about 20-millimeters.

Looking especially at FIG. 3, a portion of the upper facial expanse 22b in the left beam component 22 has been broken open to show, schematically that extruded beam components 22 are formed of a natural-fiber strand material, referred to herein as strand structure, 40 embedded in a plastic polymer binder structure generally shown at 42.

Looking with digression now for a moment at FIG. 11, here one sees a modified form of component 22 wherein central channel 28 does not exist. Rather, this form of component 22 has, instead of a central channel 28, a solid fill 39 which acts as a stiffener expanse in the component, and which functions extremely well to provide enhanced anti-buckle strength to the component under circumstances where it is used as a column. Laterally opposite side regions of fill 39 play roles, as can be seen, in defining laterally outwardly open, box-like channels 30, 32.

Considering now FIG. 5 along with FIGS. 3 and 4, indicated generally at 44 in these figures is a specially configured flat and planar connector, or interconnect unit, which has the shaped configuration clearly pictured in these figures. Connector 44 includes four attaching bore holes 44a, and a specially shaped right-hand end (in FIGS. 3-5, inclusive), including an elongate rectangular aperture 44b, and possessing a shaped outline that substantially matches the previously mentioned stepped configuration furnished in the facial-expanse extensions in beam component 22.

Connectors, like connector 44, are employed herein to establish orthogonal (T) interconnections between intersecting beam components, such as the T interconnection which is illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4. These connectors operate in what can be thought of as being a non-invasive, bayonet-type way to establish an appropriate interconnection between T-intersecting beams components, with each connector (and referring now especially to FIG. 3) shifted into position first as illustrated by an arrow 46, then shifted inwardly to within a laterally outwardly facing channel, such as channel 30, as illustrated by an arrow 48, and then rotated essentially 90-degrees (bayonet-style), as indicated by curved arrow 50, to place it in a condition such as that shown for it especially in FIG. 4 in the drawings. In this condition, bore holes 44a become aligned with suitably prepared, matching-disposition bore holes 52 provided in a central web in a beam component, and this assembly is effectively tightened into a stabilized condition utilizing sets of nuts and bolts, such as those sets shown including bolts 54 and nuts 56.

It will be observed, especially in FIG. 5, that with connectors 44 so employed, rectangular apertures 44b afford substantially wide-area transverse clearance for the thorough-passage in a channel, such as in channel 30, of elongate building infrastructure components, such as electrical wiring and plumbing components.

With reference specifically to FIG. 5, further offered by the present invention is a uniquely shaped positioner insert, such as the insert shown at 58 in FIG. 5, which is edge-shaped to fit within the stepped cross-sectional outline of a channel, such as channel 30, and to lie in a plane substantially paralleling the plane of an installed connector 44. Insert 58 is provided, as can be seen, with partial-circular, laterally-open-sided recesses, such as those shown at 58a, for receiving and positionally stabilizing through-passage building infrastructure components, such as those mentioned above. In FIG. 5, plumbing infrastructure (tubing) is shown generally at 59, and electrical wiring infrastructure at 61.

Turning attention now to FIG. 6 in the drawings, here, shown isometrically and fragmentarily is an end portion of a flat-panel-like, elongate, extruded component 24 (panel component). This component has a long axis 24a, and as is true with respect to beam-like components 22, possesses a consistent and uniform, trans-axial, cross-sectional configuration along its entire length, which configuration is clearly illustrated in FIG. 6. This cross-sectional configuration possesses what are referred to herein as orthogonally related, trans-axial, cross-sectional dimensions E and F which are decidedly dissimilar from one another. In the specific illustration of a component 24 now being discussed, dimension E is typically about 1-inch, and dimension F about 6-inches.

Component 24 includes a substantially nominally planar, broad facial expanse 24b, the near side of which in FIG. 6 is substantially smooth and flat, and on the far side of which are integrally formed and joined plural, generally nominally planar and orthogonally related stiffener expanses, such as those shown at 24c, 24d, 24e, 24f, 24g and 24h. These stiffener expanses collaborate with facial expanse 24b, and with several flange structures which will be mentioned more fully shortly, to provide in component 24 plural, elongate, generally rectangular, box-like channels 60, 62, 64, 66, 68. As can be seen, channels 60, 64, 68 are downwardly facing, laterally open channels in FIG. 6, and have their lower sides partially exposed by elongate slots which exist between in-turned flange structures (briefly mentioned above) as illustrated. Channels 62, 66 are substantially closed (laterally closed) on all four sides.

As distinguished from beam components 22, each component 24 is not precisely bilaterally symmetrical with respect to its long axis 24a, and this non-symmetry comes about because of the presence, adjacent opposite lateral edges of the component, of what can be thought of as being a laterally-divided, virtual S-shaped flange configuration which includes, with respect to the presentation provided in FIG. 6, an upwardly turned flange 24i (one-half of an S-shape), and a downwardly turned flange 24j (the other half of an S-shape). These flanges, as will be noticed particularly on looking at what is illustrated in FIG. 9 in the drawings, accommodate lateral, overlapping, interlocking connections between next-adjacent panel components, and are referred to also herein as interconnect-accommodating flanges.

Completing what is shown in FIG. 6, planar expanse 24b is seen to lie nominally in a plane shown by dash-double-dot line 70. Flanges 24i, 24j extend, generally speaking, in laterally spaced planes 72, 74 which are disposed substantially orthogonally with respect to plane 70. Planes 72, 74 substantially parallel what can be thought of as being the central longitudinal plane of element 24 which both contains axis 24a and lies substantially normal to plane 70.

Where panel components are employed in a building structure, the laterally closed channels therein may be very usefully employed to receive and support the earlier mentioned kinds of building infrastructure. Additionally, and as is schematically illustrated at HW near the top, left side of FIG. 6, channels 62, 66 may be “sealed-connected” (such connections are not specifically illustrated), and employed directly as conduits for carrying radiant heating fluid, such as heated water.

FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate a special, molded, J-shaped connector (J-connector) 76 having the configuration clearly pictured in FIG. 7, which connector is useable, as illustrated in FIG. 8, to establish an operative, structural, orthogonal interconnection between a panel-like component 24 and a beam-like component 22. J-connector 76 includes an elongate, central shank portion 76a joined integrally adjacent its lower end with a lower J-curled portion 76b, and joined integrally adjacent its upper end with a capping-T portion 76c. Portions 76a, 76b can be thought of as lying generally in a plane 78, with portions 76a, 76c combinedly lying in an orthogonally related plane 80.

When placed into use, a J-connector is employed in such a fashion that its capping-T portion 76c is inserted and rotated, bayonet-style, through the lateral opening of and within (typically) a channel 64 in a panel component, with the connector's J portion 76b engaging and becoming caught beneath a beam-component's sub-flange, such as a sub-flange 34, at an outer side of a beam component. Such an orthogonal interconnection between a panel component and a beam component through a J-connector is shown very clearly in FIG. 8 in the drawings. The respective long axes of these two components are seen in FIG. 8 to be disposed orthogonally relative to one another.

FIG. 9 in the drawings illustrates another kind of interconnection proposed by the present invention which can be established between a beam component 22 and pair of next-adjacent, linearly-aligned (parallel), overlying panel components 24. Here illustrated are two specially shaped connectors 82 each of which includes three, specially shaped rail elements 82a, 82b, 82c, and an edge J-shaped element 82d. As can be seen, rail elements 82a, 82b, 82c are adapted for captured reception within channels 64, 60, 68, respectively, in a panel component.

Further to be noted in FIG. 9 is a condition mentioned earlier herein which involves overlapping and interlocking connections between the two, illustrated, linearly-aligned panel components shown in FIG. 9. This connection exists through interaction between a pair of flanges 24i, 24j.

The manner in which connectors 82 may be employed is thus clearly illustrated in FIG. 9.

Turning attention now to FIG. 10 in the drawings, here indicated, generally at 84, is a specially shaped ridge connector including a pair of box-like, aligned arm portions 84a, 84b which lie in a common plane, and a pair of orthogonally and angularly related box-like arm portions 84c, 84d. These box-like arm portions may be received close-fittingly within the exposed, central channels 38 at confronting ends of four beam components 22 to anchor these components at a peak or ridge line within a building roof structure, such as the ridge line which is shown clearly and fragmentarily in FIGS. 1 and 2 in the drawings. Bore holes, such as those shown at 85, accommodate nut-and-bolt securement of a connector 84 with interengaging beam components. Elongate, generally rectangular openings, such as those shown at 86 in FIG. 10, provide clearance within lateral channels in associated beams components for accommodating the through passage of appropriate building infrastructure.

Turning attention now to FIGS. 12a, 12b, 12c in the drawings, and referring first of all to FIG. 12a, a fragment of a beam-like component 22 is shown in this figure, with that side of this component which includes channel 30 facing the viewer in FIG. 12a, and with component 22 shown in what should be understood to be a vertical condition, with its long axis 22a, accordingly, vertically disposed, and lying within a vertical plane which is edge-represented by axis-line 22a. An inter-component connection is schematically illustrated in this figure, implemented through a connector 44 which has been extended into and caught, bayonet-style, within channel 30. Connector 44 in FIG. 12a lies in a horizontal plane 90.

In FIG. 12b, the components of FIG. 12a are shown in relatively, orthogonally rotated conditions, with component axis 22a lying in a horizontal plane, and connector 44 extending and lying in the same plane 90 which is also pictured in FIG. 12a, but which in FIG. 12b is vertical rather than horizontal.

In FIG. 12c, another rotated condition of these interconnected components is shown with, in this condition, beam component long axis 22a lying in one inclined plane (which is edge-represented by axis-line 22a), and the connection established by connector 44 lying in another inclined plane which is the same, but now differently inclined, plane 90 shown in FIGS. 12a and 12b.

The reason for presenting the views thus discussed in FIGS. 12a, 12b, 12c will be more fully touched upon shortly after the next-following description of what is shown in FIGS. 13a, 13b and 13c.

In FIG. 13a, a panel-like component 24, with the open side of channel 64 facing the viewer in this figure, is illustrated in a condition with its long axis 24a extending in a vertical plane. An inter-component connection is shown in this figure implemented through a J-connector 76 which, through capping-T portion 76c is essentially established in a horizontal plane shown by dash-dot line 92 in FIG. 13a.

FIG. 13b shows an orthogonally rotated condition for the inter-component connection shown in FIG. 13a, with panel axis 24a here lying in a horizontal plane, and the previously described connection established through the T-capping portion 76c in J-connector 76 effectively lying still in plane 92, which here is vertical.

FIG. 13c shows another rotated condition for the inter-component connection so far shown in FIGS. 13a and 13b, with panel long axis 24a here lying in one inclined plane, and the connection established through J-connector 76 still lying in plane 92 which here extends in another inclined plane.

Thus, and as is quite evident particularly from FIGS. 1 and 2 in the drawings, each of the two, key, elongate components 22, 24 proposed by the present invention is structured whereby it offers utility in an overall building structure, such as building structure 20, in a manner whereby its long axis may lie in any one of (a) a vertical plane, (b) a horizontal plane, and (c) a plane which is angled/inclined relative both to the vertical and the horizontal. Not only are these particular axially disposition conditions essentially all pictured in FIGS. 1 and 2, they are also pictured in FIGS. 12a, 12b, 12c and FIGS. 13a, 13b, 13c.

With reference specifically to what is shown for these two elongate components, 22, 24, in the different FIGS. 12a, 12b, 12c and 13a, 13b, 13c, one can see that: (a) when either of these components has its long axis disposed in the vertical plane, it effectively presents what can be thought of as an attaching channel which is catch-engageable in a horizontal plane; (b) with a component's long axis disposed in a horizontal plane, the component presents an attaching channel which is catch-engageable in a vertical plane; and (c) with a component's long axis disposed in a first inclined plane, the component presents an attaching channel which is catch-engageable in a second inclined plane, where that second inclined plane is substantially normal (orthogonal) with respect to the first inclined plane.

Thus one can see that the special components proposed by the present invention offer a rich field of opportunity for interconnection in a variety of different orientations within a building structure.

Thus, there has been described and illustrated herein a preferred embodiment of the present invention, wherein two, specially cross-sectioned, elongate, common-cross-sectioned building components have been designed to offer the opportunity to build many building structures, with these two components essentially making up a very large percentage (typically 90-plus-percent) of the structural components in a building. Within these components, the same portions thereof which operate as load-bearing stiffening expanses, play companion roles in defining various laterally outwardly facing accessible channels, and variously closed channels, wherein different kinds of building infrastructure, such as wiring, plumbing, communication cabling, etc., may be distributed and supported for appropriate routing and positioning in and throughout a building. Uniquely, the laterally closed channels in the elongate building components may be appropriately sealed-interconnected, and employed directly as conduits for carrying radiant heating fluid, such as heated water.

It should be evident that the components and the connectors offered by the present invention provide the opportunity for extremely low-cost and efficient building construction, utilizing extremely simple tools, and requiring very little high-level assembly skill on a jobsite. It will also be evident that the components of this invention may readily be used, recurrently, and without component damage, to fabricate various kinds of building structures which are (a) to be selectively (internally or externally) later changeable, (b) to be intentionally “temporary”, or (c) otherwise to be later disassembled/modified, with no appreciable negative consequences in terms of loss or waste of materials. This is made possible, of course, because of the fact that the components of the invention are designed to be readily assembleable and disassembleable in most building locations in a snap-together manner and substantially without any component modifications.

Accordingly, while a preferred embodiment and manner of working with the present invention have been illustrated and described herein, it is appreciated that variations and modifications may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention.