Title:
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR MOBILE STEM WALL
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A stem wall is provided by manufacturing the stem wall and then transporting the stem wall to the house site for placement. Preferably, the stem wall is manufactured within an enclosed facility. Further, the stem wall is preferably manufactured at a location which does not require transporting the stem wall via public roadways to the house site. The stem wall can be manufactured by pouring concrete into a mold. Tension cables can be positioned within the mold and tightened after the concrete cures to provide increased tensile strength. The stem wall can be formed with one or more horizontal openings. Beams or pegs can be inserted through the horizontal openings to facilitate transportation of the stem wall to the house site. Before the stem wall is transported to the house site, a house can be built or placed on top of the stem wall.



Inventors:
Rhodes, James (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Priddy, Matthew (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Clark, William (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Smith, Fraser (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Application Number:
11/620560
Publication Date:
07/10/2008
Filing Date:
01/05/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B2/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WENDELL, MARK R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
K&L Gates LLP-NA (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
The invention is claimed as follows:

1. A foundation made by a process comprising: forming a stem wall structure; transporting the stem wall structure to a structure site; and placing the stem wall structure at the structure site.

2. The foundation of claim 1, wherein forming the stem wall structure includes creating a mold.

3. The foundation of claim 2, wherein forming the stem wall structure includes pouring a concrete mixture into the mold.

4. The foundation of claim 3, wherein the concrete mixture includes a light weight aggregate or a foaming agent.

5. The foundation of claim 2, wherein forming the stem wall structure includes inserting a tension cable in the mold and stressing the tension cable.

6. The foundation of claim 1, wherein the stem wall structure includes an exterior surface attachment point or a protrusion.

7. The foundation of claim 1, wherein the stem wall structure includes a horizontal hole extending at least part way through one wall of the stem wall structure.

8. The foundation of claim 7, wherein transporting the stem wall structure includes inserting a member into the horizontal hole.

9. The foundation of claim 8, wherein the member is a beam.

10. The foundation of claim 1, wherein the process further comprises: attaching a full-sized house to the stem wall structure.

11. The foundation of claim 1, wherein the stem wall structure is transported substantially as one connected piece.

12. A method of providing a foundation for a structure comprising: forming a stem wall structure; transporting the stem wall structure to a structure site; and placing the stem wall structure at the structure site.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein forming the stem wall structure includes creating a mold.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein forming the stem wall structure includes pouring a concrete mixture into the mold.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the concrete mixture includes a light weight aggregate or a foaming agent.

16. The method of claim 13, wherein forming the stem wall structure includes inserting a tension cable in the mold and stressing the tension cable.

17. The method of claim 12, wherein the stem wall structure includes an exterior surface attachment point or a protrusion.

18. The method of claim 12, wherein the stem wall structure includes a horizontal hole extending at least part way through one wall of the stem wall structure.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein transporting the stem wall structure includes inserting a member into the horizontal hole.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the member is a beam.

21. The method of claim 12, further comprising: attaching the structure to the stem wall structure.

22. The method of claim 21, wherein the structure is attached to the stem wall structure at the structure site.

23. The method of claim 21, wherein the structure is attached to the stem wall structure before the stem wall structure is transported to the structure site.

24. The method of claim 12, further comprising: building the structure on the stem wall structure.

25. The method of claim 24, wherein the structure is built on the stem wall structure at the structure site.

26. The method of claim 24, wherein the structure is built on the stem wall structure before the stem wall structure is transported to the structure site.

27. The method of claim 12, wherein the structure is a full-sized house.

28. The method of claim 12, wherein the stem wall structure is transported substantially as one connected piece.

29. A structure comprising: a mobile stem wall structure.

30. The structure of claim 29, further comprising: a building attached to the mobile stem wall structure.

31. The structure of claim 32, wherein the building is movable with the mobile stem wall structure.

32. The structure of claim 30, wherein the building is not legally or physically transportable via public roads from a home completion site to a home site.

33. The structure of claim 29, wherein the mobile stem wall structure includes an exterior surface attachment point or a protrusion.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is related to U.S. application Ser. No. 11/431,196, entitled “BUILDING TRANSPORT DEVICE”, filed May 9, 2006, and U.S. application Ser. No. 11/559,229, entitled “TRANSPORT DEVICE CAPABLE OF ADJUSTMENT TO MAINTAIN LOAD PLANARITY”, filed Nov. 13, 2006 the entire contents of both of which are herein incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

One foundation technique frequently used in home building is to construct a stem wall. A stem wall anchors a home firmly in the ground, working like roots to hold a house down and tie it into the ground below. Further, the stem wall, being positioned around the perimeter of the house, provides support for the exterior load bearing walls of the home. It should be noted the stem wall can also provide support for interior load bearing walls or any non-load bearing walls.

A stem wall is constructed in place at the home site. Typically, the stem wall is constructed of concrete masonry or cinder block reinforced with steel and concrete. The home site is excavated and compacted using new fill. Then, a footing trench is excavated around the footprint of the house. The footing size is typically 12 to 16 inches wide by 8 to 12 inches deep. The concrete footing is poured, typically with reinforcing steel extending up from the footing. Sometimes, when the concrete of the footing sets up, the first course of block is set in place.

A stem wall is typically three masonry courses high. Every set number of inches, which varies depending on code and the height of the wall, the blocks are fitted with steel rebar for reinforcement. Further, concrete is poured into the block cells. Once the three-course wall is in place, dirt is backfilled against the exterior of the stem wall.

The house can be placed on and attached to the stem wall, leaving a crawl space beneath the house. Alternatively, the interior of the stem wall can also be backfilled and compacted to serve as the base for a concrete slab.

If a slab is to be formed, typically the cells for the stem walls are filled with concrete at the same time the slab is poured, as one continuous pour. When the cells are filled for the wall, the slab is poured as the top layer or seal for the walls. The reinforcing steel or rebar extends above the wall and slab for the tie-in to the walls. Ties and anchor bolts are wet set in the concrete so that they are completely tied into the structure.

Stem walls formed in such a way provide a very stable foundation which protects from damage even in rising waters, seismic events, and high winds. However, it is desirable to improve the efficiency of forming stem walls.

SUMMARY

In one embodiment, a stem wall is manufactured and then transported to the house site for placement. Preferably, the stem wall is manufactured within an enclosed facility; however, the stem wall can be manufactured outdoors or in any other suitable location. Further, the stem wall is preferably manufactured at a location which does not require transporting the stem wall via public roadways to the house site; however, the stem wall can be manufactured at a location for which transporting the stem wall to the house site via public roadways would be necessary or desirable.

In one embodiment, the stem wall is manufactured by pouring concrete into a mold. Tension cables (e.g., high strength steel tension cables or any other suitable type of tension cable) are positioned within the mold and are stressed after the concrete cures to provide increased tensile strength. It should be noted that other reinforcement devices (e.g., steel rebar or any other suitable reinforcing device) can also be positioned within the mold. In one embodiment, the stem wall is formed with one or more horizontal openings. Beams or pegs can be inserted through the horizontal openings to facilitate transportation of the stem wall to the house site.

In another embodiment, exterior face attachment points (e.g., exterior brackets, protrusions or any other suitable graspable structure) are attached to one or more exterior surfaces of the stem wall. The exterior face attachment points can be attached after concrete is poured into the mold or can be positioned with the mold such that the exterior face attachment points are formed as a continuous part of the stem wall.

In one embodiment, before the stem wall is transported to the house site, a house is built or placed on top of the stem wall. Preferably, the house is secured to the stem wall; however, the house is not required to be secured to the stem wall.

In one embodiment, the ground at the house site is excavated and compacted. The stem wall is then transported to and placed at the house site. Optionally, a trench or caisson can be dug and a footer or post formed on which the stem wall can be positioned; however, such an in-place footer or post is not required. Alternatively, the compacted ground can be excavated in parts to enable a bottom portion of the stem wall to be positioned within the excavated parts. In another embodiment, the stem wall is merely positioned on top of the ground. Once in place, the stem wall is preferably at least partly buried by backfilling.

Additional features and advantages are described herein, and will be apparent from, the following Detailed Description and the figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a flow diagram of the process of placing a stem wall at a home site in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a flow diagram of the process of placing a stem wall formed from poured concrete at a home site in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 3 is a diagram of a portion of a stem wall having an exterior face attachment point in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 4 is a flow diagram of the process of placing a stem wall formed from poured concrete at a home site using a dual vehicle transportation system in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram of the process of placing a stem wall and house at a home site in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 6 is a diagram of a mobile stem wall in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 7 is a diagram of an interior wall of a mobile stem wall in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 8 is a diagram of an exterior wall of a mobile stem wall in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 9 is a diagram of an exterior wall of a mobile stem wall having a horizontal opening in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 10 is a diagram of a segment of a mobile stem wall with a sub-floor and floor in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 11 is a diagram of a mobile stem wall with a sub-floor and floor positioned at a structure site in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 12 is a diagram of a segment of a mobile stem wall showing a cross section of an interior wall in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 13 is a cross section of an interior wall of a mobile stem wall in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 14 is a cross section of an exterior wall of a mobile stem wall in accordance with one embodiment.

FIG. 15 is a diagram of cross sections of different stem wall configurations in accordance with various embodiments.

FIG. 16 is a diagram of a floor/sub-floor attached to one or more hangers supported by a stem wall in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In one embodiment, a stem wall is manufactured and then transported in any suitable manner to the house site for placement. Preferably, the stem wall is manufactured within an enclosed facility; however, the stem wall can be manufactured outdoors or in any other suitable location. Further, the stem wall is preferably manufactured at a location which does not require transporting the stem wall via public roadways to the house site; however, the stem wall can be manufactured at a location for which transporting the stem wall to the house site via public roadways would be necessary or desirable. Further still, the stem wall can have any suitable dimensions, including, but not limited to: those which would provide a foundation for a house or other structure that is too large to transport over public roads due to legal, physical or any other limitation; those having length and width dimensions such that the smaller of the length and width dimensions is greater than 16 feet; and those which would support a multiple story structure. It should be noted that a stem wall can also be transported to a site (i.e., a structure site) for any suitable type of structure (e.g., a townhouse row, a commercial facility, an apartment complex, an agricultural building, etc.) and that house or home sites are a subset of structure sites.

FIG. 1 illustrates the process of placing a stem wall at a home site in accordance with one embodiment. At step 100, a stem wall is manufactured as a one-piece unit. At step 102, the stem wall is transported to the house site. At step 104, the stem wall is placed at the house site.

In one embodiment, the stem wall is manufactured by pouring concrete into a mold. Preferably, the mold includes one or more mold sections. Mold sections can be of any suitable configuration (e.g., right angle corners, T-intersections, cross intersections, straight sections, curved sections, any suitable corner joint joining any suitable number of wall portions arranged at any suitable angle) and can have any suitable length or dimensions; however, a segmented mold is not required, and a mold can be built in a non-modular or even non reusable manner. To build a mold, suitable segments are selected and arranged together. The mold can have any suitable shape, and preferably at least includes the perimeter of the eventual house which will rest upon the stem wall; however, the mold is not required to include the perimeter of the eventual house and can include internal walls running between exterior walls or other interior walls.

Typically, the concrete is a mixture of cement and a sand and/or gravel aggregate; however, the concrete can be any suitable mixture including, but not limited to, those having a lighter weight aggregate such as pumice, scoria, volcanic cinders, tuff, diatomite, heated/processed clay, heated/processed shale, heated/processed slate, heated/processed diatomaceous shale, heated/processed perlite, heated/processed obsidian, heated/processed vermiculite, or industrial cinders, Styrofoam, plastic or ceramic beads or nuggets, blast-furnace slag that has been specially cooled and/or mixtures including foaming agents such as aluminum powder (which produces gas while the concrete is still plastic) or other pocket forming materials. Alternatively the stem wall can be manufactured from cement or by layering cinder blocks with rebar inserts and concrete or cement filling as is typical of stem walls formed at the house site or in any other suitable manner using any other suitable substance.

Preferably, tension cables are positioned within the mold and are stressed after the concrete cures to provide increased tensile strength; however tension cables are not required and the stem wall can be unreinforced or reinforced with any suitable component such as rebar or a wire mesh or any combination of suitable reinforcement components.

FIG. 2 illustrates the process of placing a stem wall formed from poured concrete at a home site in accordance with one embodiment. At step 200, a mold for the stem wall is assembled from mold modules. At step 202, a plurality of tension cables are placed within the mold. At step 204, concrete is poured into the mold and allowed to cure. At step 206, the stem wall is released from the mold. At step 208, the tension cables are tightened. At step 210, the stem wall is transported to the house site. At step 212, the stem wall is placed at the house site. It should be appreciated that in other embodiments, the order of some of the above steps (e.g., the curing, the tightening and the releasing) are performed in a different order.

In one embodiment, the stem wall is formed with one or more horizontal openings. Beams or pegs can be inserted through the horizontal openings to facilitate transportation of the stem wall to the house site. Preferably, the openings are configured such that a beam can extend through two exterior walls of the stem wall; however, such a configuration is not required. In an alternative embodiment, instead of or in addition to the horizontal openings, one or more protruding members are formed extending from one or more exterior walls of the stem wall. The protruding member can be part of the mold and poured similar to the rest of the stem wall. Alternatively, a beam (e.g., a steel I beam) is positioned with the mold such that when the stem wall is poured, a portion of the beam extends beyond the exterior surface of the stem wall.

In another alternative embodiment, exterior face attachment points (e.g., exterior brackets, protrusions or any other suitable graspable structure) are attached to one or more exterior surfaces of the stem wall. The exterior face attachment points can be attached after concrete is poured into the mold or can be positioned with the mold such that the exterior face attachment points are formed as a continuous part of the stem wall. FIG. 3 shows a portion of a stem wall 300 having an exterior face attachment point 302. The exterior face attachment point 302 includes an embedded steel plate 304 to which an external bracket 306 can be mounted or attached (e.g., by bolting, welding or any other suitable attachment mechanism). The external bracket 306 can have any suitable configuration and is preferably operable with one or more other attachment points to enable one or more transportation vehicles to grasp and/or lift the stem wall 300.

In one embodiment, after the stem wall is formed, it is transported to and positioned at the house site. Preferably, one or more ground transportation devices are coupled to the stem wall by gripping the beams or other objects (e.g., cables, brackets, etc.) inserted through the horizontal holes; however, the devices can be coupled to the stem wall in any other suitable manner, including but not limited to by inserting pegs of the devices into the horizontal holes or by gripping one or protruding members or exterior attachment points described above. It should be noted that the stem wall is not required to be transported by a ground vehicle and that the stem wall can be transported by an air vehicle (e.g., a helicopter), a water vehicle (e.g., a barge) or any other suitable vehicle (e.g., a crane, an amphibious craft, etc.).

FIG. 4 illustrates the process of placing a stem wall formed from poured concrete at a home site using a dual vehicle transportation system in accordance with one embodiment. At step 400, a mold for the stem wall is assembled from mold modules. At step 402, a plurality of tension cables (e.g., high strength steel tension cables) are placed within the mold. It should be noted that one or more other reinforcement devices (e.g., rebar, wire mesh, etc.) can also be placed within the mold. At step 404, concrete is poured into the mold and allowed to cure. At step 406, the stem wall is released from the mold. At step 408, the tension cables are stressed. At step 410, beams are inserted through holes in one side of the stem wall, extended through the interior of the stem wall and through corresponding holes in the opposite side of the stem wall. It should be noted, the holes are not required, and other suitable lifting/supporting mechanisms can be implemented, including but not limited to protrusions, exterior face attachment points, and/or any other suitable lifting and/or supporting mechanism. At step 412, a set of ground transportation vehicles are coupled to the beams. At step 414, the stem wall is transported, supported by the beams, to the house site. At step 416, the stem wall is placed at the house site. At step 418, the set of vehicles disengage from the beams. The beams can be removed or can remain extending through the stem wall.

Once positioned at the house site, the interior portion of the stem wall can be filled and compacted; however, the filling and compacting is not required and the interior portion can be left as a crawl space. A concrete or any other suitable slab can be poured integral with the stem wall; however, such a slab is not required. Then, a house or other structure can be built or placed upon the stem wall. The stem wall can be attached to the house, slab or other structure in any suitable manner, including, but not limited to, pouring onto protrusions (e.g., rebar or wire mesh) from the stem wall, caulk, tar, or other adhesives or bonding agents, anchors bored or placed during formation into the stem wall, bolts, epoxies or any other suitable joining substances or structures.

In another embodiment, before the stem wall is transported to the house site, a house is built or placed on top of the stem wall. Preferably, the house is secured to the stem wall in any suitable manner, including those described above for a site-built or attached house; however, the house is not required to be secured to the stem wall. In one embodiment, the stem wall is placed or formed on skates which are operable to transport the stem wall within a home or other structure manufacturing facility or site; however, the stem wall can be transported within the facility or site in any suitable manner (e.g., rails, cranes, vehicles, air cushion, dollies, reduced friction surfaces, etc.) or remain stationary until being transported to the home site. Alternatively, a stem wall can be manufactured at one facility or site and transported to one or more other facilities or sites at which a house is at least partly built of placed upon the stem wall before the stem wall is transported to and placed at the house site.

Preferably, the stem wall is moved on the skates from station to station, and at each station one or more portions of the house or structure is built on or added to the stem wall/house structure. However, the stem wall is not required to be moved from station to station. The stem wall can remain substantially in one position while house or other structure is placed or built upon the stem wall. For example, a full-sized house (e.g., a non-roadable house, a mini-mansion, houses larger than mobile homes, etc.) can be built or assembled within the facility or brought to the facility and attached to the stem wall. Alternatively, a full-sized house can be built in any suitable manner (e.g., stick building, panelized building, modular building) onto the stem wall. Further it should be noted that alternatively, a smaller dwelling such as a mobile home can be placed or built upon the stem wall. It should also be noted that structures other than houses (including but not limited to townhouse rows, apartment buildings, commercial structures, agricultural buildings or any other suitable structure) can be placed or build upon the stem wall.

In one embodiment, after the stem wall and house are coupled, the stem wall and house are transported to the house site in any suitable manner, including, but not limited to, those described above for transporting the stem wall. Alternatively or additionally, transporting the stem wall and house can include coupling a moving apparatus (e.g., one or more vehicles, a crane, etc.) to a structure of the house, a protrusion from the house, an opening into the house, any of the mechanisms described in co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/431,196 and 11/559,229, the entire contents of both of which are incorporated herein, or any other suitable mechanism for grasping the house as well as or instead of the stem wall.

FIG. 5 illustrates the process of placing a stem wall and house at a home site in accordance with one embodiment. At step 500, a mold for the stem wall is assembled from mold modules. At step 502, a plurality of tension cables are placed within the mold. It should be noted that one or more of any other suitable reinforcement mechanism can also be inserted into the mold. At step 504, concrete is poured into the mold and allowed to cure. At step 506, the stem wall is released from the mold. At step 508, the tension cables are stressed. At step 510, a house is built upon the stem wall. It should be noted that the house can alternatively be built and then placed upon the stem wall. At step 512, the stem wall and house are transported to the house site. At step 514, the stem wall and house are placed at the house site.

In one embodiment, the ground at the house site is excavated and compacted. The stem wall is then transported to and placed at the house site. Optionally, a trench, column, caisson or pier can be dug and a footer or post formed on which the stem wall can be positioned; however, a such an in-place footer or post is not required. If such an in-place footer or column is formed, the stem wall is preferably placed thereon before the footer or column has set. Further, one or more protrusions (e.g., rebar or wire mesh) from the stem wall are preferably inserted into the footer, column or caisson when the stem wall is placed. However, such protrusions are not required and the column or footer can be allowed to set before the stem wall is placed upon it.

Alternatively, the compacted ground can be excavated in parts to enable a bottom portion of the stem wall to be positioned within the excavated parts. In another embodiment, the stem wall is merely positioned on top of the ground. Once in place, the stem wall is preferably at least partly buried by backfilling; however, the stem wall is not required to be even partly buried. Further, the stem wall is preferably buried to a level sufficiently high to cover one or more openings and/or protrusions used in transporting the stem wall to the house site; however, it is not required to bury such openings and/or protrusions, if any.

FIGS. 6-11 illustrate a stem wall 600 in accordance with one embodiment. The stem wall 600 had exterior walls 602 forming a substantially rectangular shape. The stem wall 600 also includes interior walls 604 which provide additional support for interior house walls and/or support for the longer exterior walls 602. A floor/sub-floor 606 rests upon the interior 604 and exterior 602 walls.

The floor/sub-floor 606 is separated from the interior wall 604 by a spacer 608. The spacer 608 is preferably more compressible than the material used to form the stem wall 600 and can include wood, plastic or any other suitable material; however, spacer 608 is not required to be more compressible than the material used to form the stem wall 600. Further, the spacer 608 can include a material that joins the floor/sub-floor 606 and the interior wall 604, such as tar, caulk, epoxy or any other suitable bonding or adhering material.

The floor/sub-floor 606 is also separated from the exterior wall 602 by a spacer 610. The spacer 610 is preferably more compressible than the material used to form the stem wall 600 and can include wood, plastic or any other suitable material; however, spacer 610 is not required to be more compressible than the material used to form the stem wall 600. Further, the spacer 610 can include a material that joins the floor/sub-floor 606 and the exterior wall 602, such as tar, caulk, epoxy or any other suitable bonding or adhering material. Above the exterior walls 602 are the exterior house walls 612. Further, at least one of the exterior walls 602 includes a female structure tube 614, into which a beam or peg can be inserted for transporting the stem wall 600 as described above. It should be noted that instead of or in addition to the tube 614, the stem wall 600 can include one or more protrusions or exterior surface attachment points.

FIGS. 12-14 illustrate an alternative configuration for a stem wall 700. The interior wall 702 has an upper portion 704 which includes two lower top surfaces 706 and one upper top surface 708. Preferably, the stem portion 710 extending above the lower top surfaces 706 to the upper top surface 708 is positioned within the floor/sub-floor such that the floor/sub-floor rests on each of the upper top surface 708 and lower top surfaces 706. Further, the floor/sub-floor can contact and/or be attached to the sides of stem portion 710 in any suitable manner, including but not limited to bolts, anchors, caulk, adhesives, or any other suitable joining mechanism or substance.

The exterior wall 712 has an upper portion 714 which includes a lower top surface 716 and an upper top surface 718. Preferably, the stem portion 720 extending above the lower top surface 716 to the upper top surface 718 is positioned such that the floor/sub-floor rests on both the upper top surface 718 and lower top surface 716. Further, the floor/sub-floor can contact and/or be attached to the interior side of stem portion 720 in any suitable manner, including but not limited to bolts, anchors, caulk, adhesives, or any other suitable joining mechanism or substance. The exterior side of stem portion 720 is exposed to the ground and/or air outside the stem wall 700.

It should be noted that a stem wall can have any suitable configuration. FIG. 15 illustrates cross sections of different suitable stem wall configurations 800A-800D. Further, is should be appreciated that the floor/sub-floor can be positioned on a hanger supported by the stem wall. FIG. 16 illustrates a floor/sub-floor 900 that is attached to one or more hangers 902. The hangers 902 are supported by a portion of the stem wall 904 and can be made from any suitable substance (e.g., steel), can be attached to the stem wall 904 and/or the floor/sub-floor 900 in any suitable manner, and can have any suitable configuration.

It should be appreciated that in various embodiments, the interior of the stem wall could be filled (e.g., with concrete or cement), forming a mobile slab. The interior can be filled as part of forming the stem wall (making the stem wall and slab one continuous, possibly indistinguishable, piece), or subsequent to forming the stem wall. Similar to embodiments described above, the mobile slab can be transported to the house site with or without a house placed or built on the slab. Further, in various embodiments, the slab has one or more pockets or holes which reduce the weight of the slab.

It should also be appreciated that any dimensions described above or provided in the drawings are for exemplary purposes and that the respective objects can have any suitable size, shape and configuration.

It should be understood that various changes and modifications to the presently preferred embodiments described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Such changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present subject matter and without diminishing its intended advantages. It is therefore intended that such changes and modifications be covered by the appended claims.