Title:
SYSTEMS AND METHODS OF CONSTRUCTING, ASSEMBLING, AND MOVING MODULAR WASHROOMS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Assembly time of a modular washroom may be reduced when compared to assembly of a conventional washroom, thereby reducing delays in occupancy of building units such as those in a strip mall. In one embodiment, a modular washroom comprises coupling devices on adjoining walls that are easily accessible so that the modular washroom may be more easily and quickly moveable than a conventional washroom. In one embodiment, the modular washroom comprises components that receive compliance certification prior to installation into a building structure, thereby reducing delays related to compliance inspections that typically occur after construction of a washroom at the building site.



Inventors:
Eldridge, Harold D. (Long Beach, CA, US)
Bickel, James Speedy (San Juan Capistrano, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/530396
Publication Date:
04/05/2007
Filing Date:
09/08/2006
Assignee:
U.S. MODULAR SOLUTIONS, INC. (Riverside, CA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FERENCE, JAMES M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KNOBBE MARTENS OLSON & BEAR LLP (IRVINE, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A modular washroom assembly for assembly within a framed building having a first height and sewer lines being formed within the foundation, the framed building also comprising a water source, the washroom assembly comprising: a plurality of wall members each having an interior, an exterior side, a first lateral edge, a second lateral edge, and internal framing interposed between the interior and exterior sides such that the plurality of wall members have a thickness based at least in part on the internal framing wherein the plurality of wall members are of a second height that is less than the first height; a plurality of fittings positioned within the wall members adapted to couple washroom fixtures mounted on the plurality of wall members to the water source and sewer lines; a plurality of coupling members each having first and second legs that are interconnected with each other so that when two of the plurality of wall members are positioned such that the lateral edges are adjacent to each other with the wall members extending in substantially perpendicular directions to each other, the first and second leg of the coupling members respectively engage with the two adjacent wall members along the thickness dimension of the two adjacent wall members so as to retain the adjacent wall members in position with respect to each other; and a plurality of cover members each having first and second legs, wherein the plurality of cover members are mounted on the exterior sides of the two adjacent wall members that are positioned adjacent to each other so as to define a generally right angle interconnection between the exterior sides of the wall members and at least partially hide from sight the plurality of coupling members.

2. The modular washroom of claim 1, wherein the water source comprises an overhead water line provided at the framed building.

3. The modular washroom of claim 1, wherein the modular washroom assembly receives code certification as a result of an inspection that is offsite to the framed building.

4. The modular washroom of claim 1, wherein at least one of the wall members comprises gypsum board on the interior surface.

5. The modular washroom of claim 1, wherein the plurality of wall members comprises four wall members arranged in a substantially rectangular configuration.

6. The modular washroom of claim 5, wherein at least two of the walls are coupled with one or more bracket members positioned on inner surface of the at least two walls.

7. The modular washroom of claim 6, wherein a junction between the at least two walls is located in a corner of the framed building such that the outside surface of the walls at the junction is not accessible.

8. A modular washroom kit comprising: a plurality of walls configured for assembly at a strip mall, the plurality of walls comprising at least a first wall comprising an attachment mechanism for coupling a sink to the first wall, the first wall further comprising plumbing within the first wall configured for coupling to a water source at the strip mall; and a second wall comprising electrical wires within the second wall and an electrical outlet on the second wall; and a plurality of substantially L-shaped brackets for attaching pairs of walls together at the strip mall; wherein an ICC-ES inspection certification for the modular washroom kit is issued prior to shipment of the kit to the strip mall for assembly.

9. The modular washroom kit of claim 8, wherein the at least one wall is the first wall.

10. The modular washroom kit of claim 8, wherein the at least one wall is the second wall.

11. The modular washroom kit of claim 8, further comprising a plurality of ornamental covers configured for attachment to pairs of adjoining walls such that the L-shaped brackets are not visible.

12. The modular washroom kit of claim 8, wherein the ICC-ES inspection certification is issued in response to a self-inspection by the fabricator of the modular washroom kit, wherein the self-inspection is according to the inspection criteria provided by ICC-ES.

13. A method of assembling a modular washroom, the modular washroom comprising a plurality of walls and at least one of the walls comprises a fixture attached to the wall, the method comprising: placing at least two walls of the modular restroom in a desired location within a building structure, the at least two walls having supports coupled near an upper end of the walls for supporting a ceiling; positioning the ceiling on at least a portion of the supports; and moving the ceiling so that the ceiling is supported by the supports.

14. The method of claim 13, further comprising: attaching a substantially L-shaped bracket on a first end of a first wall and a second end, and tightening a first screw through a first side of the bracket and the first end of the first wall; and tightening a second screw through a second side of the bracket into the second end of the second wall.

15. The method of claim 13, wherein the building structure is selected from the group comprising: shopping centers, community centers, power centers, enclosed malls, tilt-up construction, strip malls, temporary “tent” facilities, gas stations, and convenience stores.

16. A method of constructing components of a modular washroom, the method comprising: (a) constructing at a manufacturing facility a plurality of walls of a modular washroom, wherein at least one of the walls comprises HVAC components within the wall and at least one of the walls comprises a fixture attached to the wall, the walls being configured for assembly at a building location remote to the manufacturing facility; (b) presenting the constructed walls to an inspector at the manufacturing facility; (c) obtaining an inspection certification for the constructed walls from the inspector after inspection of the constructed walls at the manufacturing facility; and (d) combining the constructed walls into a kit for sale to a customer, wherein the kit comprises the plurality of walls and coupling devices for securing the plurality of walls in order to form a modular washroom.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein the inspection certification is from ICC-ES.

18. The method of claim 16, wherein at least one of the walls comprises one or more fixtures that are attached to the wall prior to the step of presenting.

19. The method of claim 16, wherein at least one of the walls comprises plumbing and/or electrical components within the wall.

20. A method of coupling adjacent walls of a modular washroom, the method comprising: positioning a first substantially rectangular wall comprising a front surface and a rear surface separated by a first thickness, the first wall further comprising a left side and right side each between the front and rear surface and having widths equal to the first thickness; positioning a second substantially rectangular wall comprising a second front surface and a second rear surface separated by a second thickness, the second wall further comprising a second left side and a second right side each between the second front and rear surfaces and having widths equal to the second thickness, the second wall being positioned so that the second right side contacts the left side of the first wall so that the first and second walls are substantially perpendicular to one another and so that the second right side and the left side are at least partially exposed; and coupling at least one bracket to the exposed portions of the second right side and the left side so that the first and second walls are attached.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein the bracket is substantially L-shaped.

22. The method of claim 20, further comprising: coupling a cover member to each of the first and second walls so as to substantially hide the bracket from view.

Description:

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/715,741, filed on Sep. 9, 2005, which is hereby expressly incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to systems and methods of constructing, assembling, and moving modular washrooms.

2. Description of the Related Art

In certain construction projects, such as light frame and strip mall construction projects, multiple wash rooms are often constructed. In many of these construction projects, the washrooms are not assembled until after the building structure is complete and, therefore, completion of the washrooms often extends past a time when the remaining building structure is usable. Thus, construction of a washroom may delay opening of a new business in an otherwise usable building unit. Accordingly, there is a need for improved systems and methods for efficient and quick construction of wash rooms for use in such facilities. Additionally, in certain building structures, washrooms are provided in a predetermined location that is not changeable by the tenant prior to completion of the building project. Accordingly, if the tenant desires to relocate the washroom, the washroom is removed and a new washroom is built in the desired location. The typical cycle time for construction (or re-location) of a washroom is approximately 2 to 4 weeks or longer. Thus, after construction of a structure including a washroom facility, the owner and tenants typically are delayed at least a few weeks before they can occupy the building units. These delays can cause a significant revenue loss for the developer and the tenants. Systems and methods for quickly constructing and/or moving washrooms are desired.

Additionally, components of a washroom may require some type of regulatory certification, such as by ICC Evaluation Service (ICC-ES), before they may be used. ICC-ES is one entity that is commonly used for evaluating building products for compliance with code such as local, city, county or state building codes, for example. After inspection by ICC-ES, or other inspection entity, reports may be issued indicating whether the washroom complies with building codes and these reports may be used to prove that the washroom meets any relevant code requirements. Thus, after a building structure, which may comprise multiple building units, such as separate stores in a strip mall, has been constructed, the washrooms are built in all, or some, of the building units and then the washroom is inspected to ensure that it is in compliance with any relevant building codes. However, inspection by local inspection entity, or other inspection entity, may not be available immediately following construction of the washroom, thus further delaying the usability of the building unit. Furthermore, if inspection of the washroom reveals violations to the relevant building codes, additional time and possible additional inspections may be required before the washroom is in compliance with the relevant building codes and is considered safe and usable. Accordingly, improved systems and methods for obtaining code compliance certification for washrooms are desired.

SUMMARY

As used herein, the term “washroom” means a building structure, including a building structure comprising one or more of a sink, a toilet, and a shower; and building structures such as dressing rooms, for example, that do not include sinks, toilets, or showers. An improved washroom, referred to herein as a “modular washroom” will be described with respect to the drawings. In general, assembly time of a modular washroom may be reduced when compared to assembly time of a conventional washroom. Additionally, a modular washroom may be more easily and quickly moveable than a conventional washroom and furthermore, a modular washroom comprises components that receive compliance certification prior to installation into a building structure so that delays caused by inspectors or repairs made to bring a washroom into compliance with the relevant building code are reduced or eliminated.

In one embodiment, a modular washroom is configured for assembly within a framed building having a first height and a foundation with water and sewer lines being formed within the foundation. In one embodiment, the washroom assembly comprises a plurality of wall members each having an interior side, an exterior side, a first lateral edge, a second lateral edge, and internal framing interposed between the interior and exterior sides such that the plurality of wall members have a thickness based at least in part on the internal framing wherein the plurality of wall members are of a second height that is less than the first height, a plurality of fittings positioned within the wall members adapted to couple washroom fixtures mounted on the plurality of wall members to the water and sewer lines formed in the foundation. In one embodiment, water lines in the building structure are overhead such that the water lines are lowered into the modular washroom from above the wall members. The modular washroom may further comprise a plurality of coupling members each having first and second legs that are interconnected with each other so that when two of the plurality of wall members are positioned such that the lateral edges are adjacent each other with the wall members extending in substantially perpendicular directions to each other, the first and second leg of the coupling members respectively engage with the two adjacent wall members along the thickness dimension of the two adjacent wall members so as to retain the adjacent wall members in position with respect to each other. The modular washroom may additionally comprise a plurality of cover members each having first and second legs, wherein the plurality of cover members are mounted on the exterior sides of the two adjacent wall members that are positioned adjacent to each other so as to define a generally right angle interconnection between the exterior sides of the wall members and at least partially hide from sight the plurality of coupling members.

In one embodiment, a modular washroom kit comprises a plurality of walls configured for assembly at a strip mall, the plurality of walls comprising at least a first wall comprising an attachment mechanism for coupling a sink to the first wall, the first wall further comprising plumbing within the first wall configured for coupling to a water source at the strip mall, and a second wall comprising electrical wires within the second wall and an electrical outlet on the second wall. In one embodiment, the kit further comprises a plurality of substantially L-shaped brackets for attaching pairs of walls together at the strip mall, wherein an ICC-ES inspection certification for the modular washroom kit is issued prior to shipment of the kit to the strip mall for assembly. In one embodiment, the ICC-ES inspection certification is issued in response to a self-inspection by the fabricator of the modular washroom kit, wherein the self-inspection is according to the inspection criteria provided by ICC-ES.

In another embodiment, a method of assembling a modular washroom, the modular washroom comprising a plurality of walls and at least one of the walls comprises a fixture attached to the wall, comprising placing at least two walls of the modular restroom in a desired location within a building structure, the at least two walls having supports coupled near an upper end of the walls for supporting a ceiling, positioning the ceiling above the supports, and lowering the ceiling so that the ceiling is supported by the supports.

In another embodiment, a method of constructing components of a modular washroom comprises (a) constructing at a manufacturing facility a plurality of walls of a modular restroom, wherein at least one of the walls comprises HVAC components within the wall and at least one of the walls comprises a fixture attached to the wall, the walls being configured for assembly at a building location remote to the manufacturing facility, (b) presenting the constructed walls to an inspector at the manufacturing facility, (c) obtaining an inspection certification for the constructed walls from the inspector after inspection of the constructed walls at the manufacturing facility, and (d) combining the constructed walls into a kit for sale to a customer, wherein the kit comprises the plurality of walls and coupling devices for securing the plurality of walls in order to form a modular washroom. In one embodiment, the inspector is employed by the fabricator of the modular washroom, such that the inspection certification results from a self-inspection of the constructed walls. In one embodiment, the inspector inspects the constructed walls in accordance to inspection criteria provided by ICC-ES.

In another embodiment, a method of coupling adjacent walls of a modular washroom comprises positioning a first substantially rectangular wall comprising a front surface and a rear surface separated by a first thickness, the first wall further comprising a left side and right side each between the front and rear surface and having widths equal to the first thickness, positioning a second substantially rectangular wall comprising a second front surface and a second rear surface separated by a second thickness, the second wall further comprising a second left side and a second right side each between the second front and rear surfaces and having widths equal to the second thickness, the second wall being positioned so that the second right side contacts the left side of the first wall so that the first and second walls are substantially perpendicular to one another and so that the second right side and the left side are at least partially exposed, and coupling at least one bracket to the exposed portions of the second right side and the left side so that the first and second walls are attached.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a diagram of components of an exemplary modular washroom.

FIG. 2 is a top view of an assembled modular washroom.

FIG. 2A is a top view of another assembled modular washroom.

FIG. 2B is first cross-sectional side view of the assembled modular washroom of FIG. 2A.

FIG. 2C is a second cross-sectional side view of the assembled modular washroom of FIG. 2A.

FIG. 3 is a top view diagram of a multiple unit structure, such as a strip mall, where each of the building units comprises at least one modular washroom.

FIG. 4 is a top view diagram of the multiple unit structure of FIG. 3, where the modular washrooms in two building units have been moved to alternate locations within the respective building units.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional side view of a washroom with the ceiling positioned above the washroom.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional side view of the washroom of FIG. 4 with the ceiling lowered onto the supports within the washroom.

FIG. 7 is a top view of the washroom of FIG. 4, wherein the brackets are shown attached to the walls such that the brackets are configured to support a ceiling that is lowered into the washroom.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF CERTAIN EMBODIMENTS

Embodiments of the invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying Figures, wherein like numerals refer to like elements throughout. The terminology used in the description presented herein is not intended to be interpreted in any limited or restrictive manner, simply because it is being utilized in conjunction with a detailed description of certain specific embodiments of the invention. Furthermore, embodiments of the invention may include several novel features, no single one of which is solely responsible for its desirable attributes or which is essential to practicing the inventions described herein.

1 FIG. 1 is a diagram of components of an exemplary modular washroom. FIG. 1 illustrates multiple walls 110A-110D, where some of the walls include fittings for installing fixtures 120A-120C to the walls 110. In particular, FIG. 1 illustrates a toilet 120A that may be attached to a water valve installed in wall 110A, a sink 120B that may be attached to water and sewage valves on wall 110B, and other fixtures 120C, such as shelves, hand dryers, and paper towel dispenser, for example, that are configured for installation on wall 110C. In one embodiment, a single wall may comprise fittings for coupling the toilet 120A and the sink 120B to a water source, such as an overhead water line that drops down into the modular washroom. As discussed further below with reference to FIG. 2B, for example, the overhead water line may couple with water lines positioned inside one of the walls. In one embodiment, certain of the fixtures are installed on a wall 110 prior to shipment to the install site. In one embodiment, the walls 110 for a specific modular washroom may include fewer or additional fittings for support fixtures 120 on the walls 110 and/or coupling the fixtures to water, plumbing, and electrical sources.

In one embodiment, the walls 110A, 110B, comprise plumbing within the wall that is configured for attachment to a water source and/or sewage drain in a building unit in which the modular washroom is assembled. In addition, HVAC tubing, such as for air conditioning, heating, and electrical wiring may be preinstalled in one or more of the walls 110. Additionally, vents for delivering air conditioning and heating, and electrical outlets, for example, may also be preinstalled in one or more of the walls 110. Accordingly, due to the preinstallation of plumbing and HVAC tubing, fixtures, and vents into the walls of the modular washroom, time required to construct the modular washroom at an installation site may be reduced. Therefore, modular washroom 110 may be economically valuable due to its reduced time-to-occupancy for leased space.

In one embodiment, the fixtures 120 are coupled to the walls 110 prior to shipment to the building unit in which the modular washroom is to be assembled. In this embodiment, the time required to assemble the washroom may be reduced as the proper attachment of the fixtures and coupling to water sources and drains to the walls has already been done. In other embodiments, some of the fixtures 120 are not coupled to the walls 110 when received by a purchaser, but the walls 110 may include attachment mechanisms that allow for easy attachment of the fixtures 120 to the walls 110. In one embodiment, one of the walls 110, such as the wall 110D, for example, comprises a door.

FIG. 1 also illustrates an exemplary bracket 130, wherein a top view of the bracket 130 is illustrated as bracket 130A and a side perspective view of the bracket is illustrated as bracket 130B. In one embodiment, the walls 110 of the modular washroom 100 each include a steel or wooden frame covered with a coating such as gypsum board or particle board, for example. In the embodiment of FIGS. 1-2, the walls 110 are secured using brackets, such as bracket 103, that are installed on the outside edges of the walls 110. FIG. 2, which illustrates a top view of an assembled modular washroom 200, illustrates the position of the brackets 130 on an assembled modular washroom. As shown in FIG. 1, the bracket 130 comprises multiple holes 132 for receiving attachment devices, such as nails or screws, for example. In one embodiment, the bracket 130 is from one to six inches long, or longer. In one embodiment, the bracket 130 is about three inches long.

In operation, two adjacent walls of a modular washroom may be coupled using one or more of the brackets 130, or other similar brackets. In one embodiment, multiple brackets 130 are placed on the junction of each pair of walls 110, such as an upper bracket 130, a middle bracket 130, and a lower bracket 130. In the embodiment of FIGS. 1-2, the brackets 130 provide an external attachment means for the walls 110 of the modular washroom 100, 200 so that the walls 110 may be detached from one another without destroying portions of the walls 110. The external joining bracket advantageously may be easily removed, such as by removing screws or nails that are attached to the walls through the holes 132 of the brackets, the walls may be separated, and the modular washroom may be moved and re-assembled at another location. Additionally, the attachment screws or bolts do not need to extend through a thickness of one or more of the walls as would be done in typical construction, because the bracket 130 may be placed directly on adjoining walls. Furthermore, walls having the same dimensions may be mass produced and, when used with the brackets 130, form a square, rectangular, or any other polygonal shaped, washroom.

In one embodiment, the components of the modular washroom, such as the walls 110, fixtures 120, and related pluming, heating, air conditioning, and electrical components, are inspected prior to installation of the modular washroom at a desired building unit. For example, a third party inspector that is certified by ICC-ES may visit the manufacturing facility where the walls 110 are fabricated, conduct an inspection of the components of the walls, including fixtures attached to the walls and wiring and vents within the walls, and provide a certification certificate to the manufacturer. Thus, certification may be complete before the walls are shipped to the building site, greatly reducing or eliminating the likelihood of inspection delays or compliance changes related to the washroom. Modular washrooms, similar to the exemplary modular washroom 200, may be installed in shopping centers, community centers, power centers, enclosed malls, tilt-up construction, strip malls, temporary “tent” facilities, gas stations, and convenience stores, for example.

FIG. 2 is a top view diagram of an assembled modular washroom 200, where the modular washroom comprises components illustrated in FIG. 1. In the embodiment of FIG. 2, each pair of adjacent walls 110, such as walls 110A and 110B, for example, are coupled with one or more of the L-shaped brackets 130 that hold the walls in position with respect to one another. In one embodiment, for example, three brackets 130, each about three inches long, are placed between the junction of two walls 110 and secured to the two walls 110, such as walls 110A and 110C, in order to hold the walls 110A, 110C in place.

In the embodiment of FIG. 2, the joint between walls 110B and 110D also includes a corner cover 210, which covers the exposed bracket 130. The corner cover 210 may be secured to the walls by any means, such as screws or glue, and may be easily removable so that the joining brackets 130 may be accessed. In one embodiment, the corner cover extends along an entire height of adjoining walls 110. The corner cover 210 may advantageously cover the opening between adjoining walls 110 and provide an ornamental cover on the corners of the modular washroom. Multiple styles and designs of covers 210 are contemplated and any suitable cover may be used in conjunction with the modular washroom described herein.

As illustrated in FIG. 2, the modular washroom 200 is advantageously assembled with brackets 130 that are accessible on the outside of the modular washroom 200 without destruction of the walls 110. Thus, the modular washroom 200 may be disassembled and relocated at a fraction of the cost and time it takes to demolish and reconstruct a conventional washroom facility.

FIG. 2A is a top view of another assembled modular washroom 210 having walls 220A, 220B, 220C, 220D. In general, each of the walls 220 comprises a frame that may be made of steel, wood, or a combination of these and other materials, and each of the walls is at least partially covered by drywall, or some other wall covering material 221. In the embodiment of FIG. 2A, each of the walls comprises the wall covering material 221 on the inner surfaces of the walls and walls 220C, 220A include the wall covering material 221 on their outer surfaces. Thus, the exemplary modular washroom 210 is configured for placement in a building structure wherein the walls 220B, 220D abut adjoining walls in a corner of the building structure. Because these walls are not seen by user of the building structure, a wall covering material 221 may not be necessary on walls 220B, 220D.

In the exemplary washroom 210, a sink 212 has been attached to wall 220D, which comprises plumbing 222 that was preinstalled within the wall 220D prior to assembly of the modular washroom 210. Thus, when the wall 210 is installed at the building site, the plumbing 222 is coupled to water and sewer lines that are at the building site, such as under the foundation and/or overhead. The sink 212 may then be coupled to the wall 220D so that it interfaces with the building site water and sewer lines via the plumbing 222. In one embodiment, the toilet 214 is mounted around a sewage fitting on the provided floor surface of the building site and coupled to the building water source via a fitting on the wall 220D.

In the embodiment of FIG. 2A, the pairs of walls 220A and 220D, 220A and 220C, and 220C and 220B, are each held in place with respect to one another using an outside bracket 230, such as the bracket 130 discussed with reference to FIG. 1. A corner cover 232 is also placed over the junction of each of the above-noted wall pairs to ornamentally cover the junction of adjoining walls and the brackets 230 that couple the adjoining walls. However, because the junction between walls 220B, 220D may be inaccessible when positioned in a corner of the building site, the walls 220B, 220D are coupled using one or more inner brackets 231. In one embodiment, adjoining walls, such as walls 220B, 220D, are coupled with 1, 2, 3, 4, or more inner brackets 231, which are each screwed, bolted, or otherwise attached to an inner surface of each adjoining wall. In other embodiments, all adjoining walls may be coupled with outside brackets 230, adjoining walls may be coupled with inner brackets 231, or adjoining walls may be coupled with both outer brackets 230 and inner brackets 231. As noted above, because the brackets 230 are easily accessible from outside the washroom 210, the walls may be disassembled and reassembled at another location with reduced time and cost when compared with a typical washroom. In the embodiment of FIG. 2A, walls 220C, 220A each have insulation 224 in openings in the walls. The insulation may be useful for retaining heat or cooling in the washroom 210, or for reducing sound that travels through the insulated walls. In other embodiments, fewer or more of the walls 220 of a modular washroom include insulation.

FIG. 2B is a first cross-sectional side view 210A of the assembled modular washroom of FIG. 2A taken across the cross section indicated by cross section indicator 240 of FIG. 2A. As shown in FIG. 2B, the plumbing 222 that is within the wall 220D is coupled to plumbing 223A that is provided at the building site. In one embodiment, the plumbing 222 comprises pipes or other tubing for carrying fresh water to the sink 212 and toilet 214. In this embodiment, the building plumbing 223A comprises one or more pipes or other tubing that is coupled to a water source, such as a municipal water source.

A ceiling 245 of the modular washroom 210 comprises a ventilation opening 241 that comprises a ventilation fan. In an advantageous embodiment, the ventilation opening 241 and optional ventilation fan are coupled to the ceiling 245 prior to assembly of the modular washroom 210. A ventilation tubing 242 that is provided at the building site is coupled around the ventilation opening 214 so that the washroom 210 may be vented through the building ventilation system.

FIG. 2C is a second cross-sectional side view 210B of the assembled modular washroom of FIG. 2A taken across the cross section indicated by cross section indicator 250 of FIG. 2A. Thus, FIG. 2C illustrates a front view of wall 220C and door 234, and cross sectional views of walls 220A, 220B. As illustrated in FIG. 2C, the wall 220C comprises electrical wiring 260 within the wall 220C that terminates at an electrical box 262 that may be coupled to an electrical outlet, light switch, vent fan switch, any other electrical device, or any combination of these devices. The wiring 260 is advantageously pre-wired in the wall 220C prior to installation of the washroom 210 so that electrical work at the installation site is reduced. In one embodiment, a junction box 264 is coupled to the wall 220C so that the wiring 260 may be coupled to a power source or other wiring 260 in the building site. In other embodiments, the junction box 264 may be coupled to the ceiling 245 or any of the other walls 220. Additionally, in other embodiments multiple walls 220 may comprise electrical wiring preinstalled in the walls 220 and multiple junction boxes that are ready for coupling with electrical connections from the building site. In one embodiment, one of the walls 220C comprises all of the electrical wiring and plumbing for a modular washroom, rather than having the electrical and plumbing in separate walls.

FIG. 3 is a diagram of a multiple unit structure 300A, such as a strip mall, where each of the building units 310 comprises at least one modular washroom 320. In one embodiment, each of the modular washrooms 320 are assembled using components such as those illustrated in FIGS. 1-2. In one embodiment, the components of the washrooms 320 are inspected, such as by an ICC-ES authorized inspector, prior to assembly at the structure 300A so that there is no time delay related to certification of the modular washrooms after assembly within the respective building units 310. Thus, in one embodiment the modular washrooms 320 may be assembled in a matter of 1-3 days, for example, rather than the 2-4 weeks or more that is typically required for multiple phases of construction and building inspections of a conventional washroom.

FIG. 4 is a diagram of the multiple unit structure 300 of FIG. 3, where the modular washrooms 320C, 320D have been moved to alternate locations within their respective building units 310C, 310D. As noted above, in certain circumstances washrooms may need to be moved within building units. For example, a tenant may assemble a washroom at a first location within a building unit only to later learn that another location within the building may be more desirable. For example, the tenant or owner of building unit 310D may have initially placed modular washroom 320D at the location illustrated in FIG. 3, but later determined that a larger open area at the front of the store was desirable and, thus, the modular washroom 320D should be moved to the rear of the building unit 310D. Because the modular washroom 320D is assembled in a manner similar to that discussed above with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the modular washroom 320D may be more easily disassembled and reassembled at the location shown in FIG. 4, or any other location.

Currently, many developers provide a conventional washroom in each unit in a predetermined location. When a tenant takes possession of the unit, they must then determine if the conventional washroom is in the proper location or if the conventional washroom should be moved to a more convenient location in the unit. Currently, the cost of relocating a conventionally constructed washroom facility may be in the range of $7,500-$9,000 or more. In contrast, as discussed above the modular washroom described herein may be more easily and cost-effectively disassembled and reassembled. For example, the current cost of relocating a modular washroom may be in the range of about $1,000-$3,000.

Some contractors provide what is commonly referred to as a “Vanilla” project, which is a project including about 25-40 units, each comprising approximately 800-1,400 square feet, such as 1,200 square feet, for example, with demising walls placed about every 20 feet, and a washroom facility included in each unit. It is estimated that at least 25% or more of the tenants request that the washroom be re-located to a different spot within the unit before commencing the lease. As noted above, the cost of demolishing and relocating conventionally constructed washrooms ranges from $7,500 to $9,000, depending on several factors, such as the length of concrete trenching and whether the developer has a dedicated construction crew. This relocation also costs the tenant and/or owner lost occupancy time as the conventional washroom is being relocated. Thus, in one embodiment contractors may offer modular washrooms, such as modular washrooms 100, 200, 320, as an alternative to conventional washrooms so that disassembly and reassembly of the modular washrooms at alternate locations may be more easily accomplished.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional side view of a washroom 500 with a ceiling 510 of the washroom positioned above the walls. In one embodiment, the ceiling 510 of the modular washroom 500 may be positioned within the washroom by lowering the ceiling 520 between the already positioned and secured walls 505, wherein supports 510 extending inward into the modular washroom 500 support the ceiling 520. For example, after coupling three of the walls 505 such that a C-shaped structure is formed, the ceiling may be positioned on the supports 510 by sliding the ceiling into the washroom 500, where the ceiling is supported by the supports 510, through the one remaining open side of the washroom 500. The supports 510 may comprise L-shaped brackets that are attached to the walls 505 with an attachment device, such as screws or nails, for example. In other embodiments, the supports 510 may comprise any other protrusions that are suitable to support the ceiling 520. For example, a strip of wood, such as pieces of 1×2 boards, may be screwed into the walls at the desired height of the ceiling 520 so that the boards support the ceiling 520 when it is lowered within the walls 505. Alternatively, a board, or other elongated material, may be extended along the entire inner perimeter of the washroom 500 at the desired height for the ceiling 520. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 5, the supports 510 extend along substantially the entire width of the 505. In another embodiment, the supports 510 may be smaller and positioned intermittently on the walls 505 in order to support the ceiling 520. In one embodiment, the supports 510 are preassembled on the walls 505 prior to shipment to the install location. Thus, assembly of the modular washroom is not slowed due to installation of the supports 510 at the install location.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional side view of the washroom 500 of FIG. 4 with the ceiling 520 lowered onto the supports 510 between the walls 505 of the washroom. In one embodiment, the modular ceiling 520 is raised above the supports 510 and rotated so as to be substantially perpendicular to each of the walls 505 above the supports. The modular ceiling 520 may then be lowered so that the ceiling 520 is supported by the supports 510. In one embodiment, the ceiling 520 is positioned over the supports 510 and then lowered onto the supports after two or more walls 505 have been secured together, such as with the brackets 130 (FIG. 2), in order to form a multi-sided washroom structure. In one embodiment, positions of walls of a building unit, such as a strip mall, may also comprise one or more walls of a modular washroom. For example, the modular washroom 320D (FIG. 3) may use three walls of the building unit 310D, such that only one wall 322 is installed in order to form the outline of the modular washroom. In this embodiment, the supports 510 may also be positioned on walls of the building unit 310.

FIG. 7 is a top view of the washroom 500 of FIG. 5, wherein the brackets 510 are shown attached to the walls 505 such that the brackets 510 are configured to support the ceiling 520 as it is lowered between the walls 505. In other embodiments, a modular washroom may comprise fewer or more walls 505 and, thus, may comprise a ceiling that is shaped differently.

The foregoing description details certain embodiments of the invention. It will be appreciated, however, that no matter how detailed the foregoing appears in text, the invention can be practiced in many ways. The use of particular terminology when describing certain features or aspects of the invention should not be taken to imply that the terminology is being re-defined herein to be restricted to include any specific characteristics of the features or aspects of the invention with which that terminology is associated. The scope of the invention should therefore be construed in accordance with the appended claims and any equivalents thereof.