Title:
Multi-unit housing with integral garage
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A design concept has now been developed that provides for a multi-unit housing having a number of design and construction advantages. In a type 5 (IBC) structure, a multi-story building is constructed over a single foundation. The building is constructed so that pairs of residential units are positioned in a generally back-to-back configuration separated by a non-load bearing unit separation wall. This unit separation wall may be easily moved or positioned after the shell of the building has been constructed so as to customize the size of an individual unit. A central drive lane is positioned on the ground level of the building under the upper floors of the structure. The central drive lane provides access to individual private garages which open onto the central drive lane, and the garages can provide access to a ground floor vestibule. Other living areas are positioned on the floors above the ground floor. The drive lane and garage openings are concealed from by a person viewing from the exterior of the building. The unit separation wall can be placed in a plurality of positions thus allowing for the shell of the building to be built first. Then, at a later time, individual units can be sold, the unit separation wall installed, and the individual units finished. In this manner the design allows the consuming public to pick the optimum size distribution of units. Additionally the design provides for a maximum of livable square footage for a given lot size.



Inventors:
Jones, Jeffrey E. (Scottsdale, AZ, US)
Sigurdsson, Kristjan (Phoenix, AZ, US)
Application Number:
12/002205
Publication Date:
06/18/2009
Filing Date:
12/14/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/741.2, 52/741.1
International Classes:
E04H1/04
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Primary Examiner:
DEMUREN, BABAJIDE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GALLAGHER & KENNEDY, P. A. (PHOENIX, AZ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A multi-unit, multi-floor housing structure built according to type 5 (IBC), wherein the housing structure is built under a zoning code setting minimum open air requirements and maximum height requirements, and wherein the structure has two fronts and two sides, the structure comprising: a ground floor having a central drive lane and private garage spaces positioned with garage doors opening on either side of the central drive lane; an exterior wall substantially surrounding the ground floor so as to restrict the view of the drive lane and garage doors from the exterior of the structure; a side entrance to the central drive lane; a plurality of living units positioned in the floors above the ground floor, each unit associated with an individual private garage; a vestibule area positioned on the ground floor, connected to the private garage space and providing access to the floor of the unit above the garage space; and wherein a first set of units are configured so as to have a front facing wall aligned along a first side of the structure, and wherein a second set of units are configured so as to have a front facing wall aligned along a second side of the structure, such that the first set of units are positioned in a paired back-to-back configuration with respect to the second set of units with a unit separation wall dividing each of the paired back-to-back units.

2. The multi-unit, multi-floor housing structure according to claim 1 further comprising a ground floor entry door for each unit wherein the entry door opens to the vestibule room.

3. The multi-unit, multi-floor housing structure according to claim 1 further comprising a roof top deck connected to each unit.

4. The multi-unit, multi-floor housing structure according to claim 1 further comprising a balcony connected to each unit on the second floor or the third floor.

5. The multi-unit, multi-floor housing structure according to claim 1 further comprising a gate positioned on the ground floor so as to cover the central drive lane entrance.

6. The multi-unit, multi-floor housing structure according to claim 1 wherein the unit separation wall dividing each unit in a paired back-to-back arrangement is a non-load bearing wall.

7. The multi-unit, multi-floor housing structure according to claim 1 wherein each unit is surrounded by three load bearing walls and one unit separation wall.

8. A three story multi-unit type 5 (IBC) building comprising: a building shell having four external load bearing walls; a plurality of units positioned within the building shell, wherein at least some of the plurality of units are positioned in a paired back-to-back configuration, such that two individual units in the paired back-to-back configuration are divided by a non-load bearing unit separation wall, and wherein at least some of the plurality of units are positioned in a side-by-side adjacent configuration such that units in the side-by-side adjacent configuration are divided by a load bearing side demising wall; a central drive lane positioned on the ground floor below the second floor of the building; a plurality of private garage spaces having garage door openings wherein each private garage space is positioned on either side of the central drive lane such that its garage door opens onto the drive lane, and wherein each private garage space is associated with an individual unit; a vestibule associated with each individual unit, the vestibule connected to each private garage space, and each vestibule connected to the second floor of its associated unit; a first floor front door associated with each unit providing access between the building exterior and the vestibule; and wherein the building structure conceals the ground floor garage from view from the exterior of the building structure.

9. The building according to claim 8 having two individual units configured in the back-to-back arrangement.

10. The building according to claim 8 having three individual units wherein two of the three units are configured in the paired back-to-back arrangement, and wherein the third unit is configured in a side-by-side adjacent relationship with the two back-to-back units such that a side demising load bearing wall is positioned between the third unit and the two back-to-back units.

11. The building according to claim 8 having four individual units wherein the first and second of the four units are configured in a paired back-to-back configuration, and the third and fourth of the four units are also configured in a paired back-to-back configuration, and wherein the first and second units are positioned in a side-by-side adjacent relationship within the building with respect to the third and fourth units, and wherein a non-load bearing unit separation wall divides the first and second units and a non-load bearing unit separation wall divides the third and fourth units, and wherein a side demising wall that is load bearing divides the first and second units from the third and fourth units.

12. The building according to claim 8 having six individual units configured such that the first and second of the four units are configured in a paired back-to-back configuration, the third and fourth of the four units are configured in a paired back-to-back configuration, and the fifth and sixth of the four units are configured in a paired back-to-back configuration, wherein the first and second units are positioned in a side-by-side adjacent relationship within the building with respect to the third and fourth units, and the third and fourth units are positioned in a side-by-side adjacent relationship within the building with respect to the fifth and sixth units, wherein a non-load bearing unit separation wall divides the first and second units, a non-load bearing unit separation wall divides the third and fourth units, and a non-load bearing unit separation wall divides the fifth and sixth units, and wherein a side demising load bearing wall that divides the first and second units from the third and fourth units, and a side demising load bearing wall divides the third and fourth units from the fifth and sixth units.

13. A method for building a multi-unit type 5 (IBC) residential structure comprising the steps of: constructing a building shell having multiple parcels which can be arranged to configure a plurality of individual units within the shell, wherein the building comprises a building shell having four external load bearing walls; a plurality of units positioned within the building shell, wherein at least some of the plurality of units are positioned in a paired back-to-back configuration, such that two individual units in the paired back-to-back configuration are divided by a non-load bearing unit separation wall, and wherein at least some of the plurality of units are positioned in a side-by-side adjacent configuration such that units in the side-by-side adjacent configuration are divided by a load bearing side demising wall; a central drive lane positioned on the ground floor below the second floor of the building; a plurality of private garage spaces having garage door openings wherein each private garage space is positioned on either side of the central drive lane such that its garage door opens onto the drive lane, and wherein each private garage space is associated with an individual unit; a vestibule associated with each individual unit, the vestibule connected to each private garage space, and each vestibule connected to the second floor of its associated unit; a first floor front door associated with each unit providing access between the building exterior and the vestibule; and wherein the building structure conceals the ground floor garage from view from the exterior of the building structure; selecting a particular unit from among the plurality of unit options by combining individual parcels to create a unit; and placing a unit separation wall within the building shell so as to create the selected unit configuration.

14. The method according to claim 13 wherein the step of constructing the building shell further comprises constructing a stair well for each possible unit, placing exterior windows, building a private garage space for each possible unit, and positioning a front door for each possible unit.

15. The method according to claim 13 wherein the step of constructing the building shell further comprises building at least three walls of each potential unit.

16. The method according to claim 13 further comprising the step of designing the multi-unit building and obtaining municipal permits for the construction of the shell building.

17. The method according to claim 13 wherein the step of selecting a particular unit is performed by the purchaser of the unit.

18. The method according to claim 13 further comprising the step of designing a plurality of floor plans for each of the plurality of units.

19. The method according to claim 18 further comprising the step of selecting a particular floor plan.

20. The method according to claim 19 wherein the step of selecting a particular floor plan is performed by the purchaser of the unit.

21. The method according to claim 18 further comprising the step of constructing the finished unit.

22. A method for building a multi-unit three story type 5 (IBC) structure so as to provide for flexibility in selecting unit size and room layout after building the shell of the structure, the method comprising the steps of: designing a building with living space on the second and third floors of the building; dividing areas on the second and third floor of each building into multiple parcels; designing a plurality of potential units based on possible combinations of the individual parcels; designing a plurality of potential floor plans for each potential unit; constructing a building shell; and offering potential units and potential floor plans for sale.

23. The method according to claim 22 further comprising the step of requesting and receiving zoning permits for the building based on the design including the design of the potential units and floor plans.

24. The method according to claim 22 further comprising the step of recording a plat for the building based on the building design having multiple parcels.

25. The method according to claim 22 further comprising building an individual unit without requesting a replat of the building.

26. The method according to claim 22 wherein the building is designed with a plurality of potential units such that the building comprises: a shell having four external load bearing walls; a plurality of units positioned within the building shell, wherein at least some of the plurality of units are positioned in a paired back-to-back configuration, such that two individual units in the paired back-to-back configuration are divided by a non-load bearing unit separation wall, and wherein at least some of the plurality of units are positioned in a side-by-side adjacent configuration such that units in the side-by-side adjacent configuration are divided by a load bearing side demising wall; a central drive lane positioned on the ground floor below the second floor of the building; a plurality of private garage spaces having garage door openings wherein each private garage space is positioned on either side of the central drive lane such that its garage door opens onto the drive lane, and wherein each private garage space is associated with an individual unit; a vestibule associated with each individual unit, the vestibule connected to each private garage space, and each vestibule connected to the second floor of its associated unit; a first floor front door associated with each unit providing access between the building exterior and the vestibule.

27. A multi-building housing project configured to maximize open air space and minimize drive space, the project comprising: a first multi-unit, multi-floor housing structure building according to type 5 (IBC) having a ground floor central drive lane with an alignment; a second multi-unit, multi-floor housing structure built according to standard 5B (IBC) having a ground floor central drive lane with an alignment; wherein the alignment of the first central drive lane and the alignment of the second central drive lane are substantially the same; and an exterior drive lane in substantial alignment with the first central drive lane and the second central drive lane wherein the exterior drive lane connects the first and second central drive lane.

28. The multi-building housing project according to claim 27 wherein vehicular access to the second building must pass through the central drive lane of the first building.

29. The multi-building housing project according to claim 27 wherein a street access lane intersects the exterior drive lane at a substantially right angle.

30. The multi-building housing project according to claim 27 further comprising a third multi-unit, multi-floor housing structure built according to standard 5 (IBC) having a ground floor central drive lane with an alignment, wherein the alignment of the first central drive lane, the alignment of the second central drive lane, and the alignment of the third central drive lane are substantially the same; and wherein vehicular access to the third building must pass through the central drive lanes of the first and second buildings.

31. The multi-building housing project according to claim 27 further comprising a third multi-unit, multi-floor housing structure built according to standard 5 (IBC) having a ground floor central drive lane with an alignment, wherein the alignment of the first central drive lane and the alignment of the second central drive lane are substantially the same, and the alignment of the third central drive lane is substantially at a right angle to the alignment of the first and second drive lanes; and a second exterior drive lane that connects with the third central drive lane and intersects the exterior drive lane between the first and second buildings.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to multi-unit housing such as apartment buildings, town homes, and condominiums. More particularly the present invention relates to designs of multi-unit housing, and methods of construction, that maximize the living space offered by the structure itself with respect to the overall square footage of the lot, and thus also maximize profitability in a construction project. While applicable to all construction types, the present invention especially relates to designs for type 5 structures (International Building Code) for multi-unit housing with integral garage where the design is adapted to municipalities having highly restrictive and rigorous zoning codes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A common objective in the design and construction of multi-unit housing is the goal to maximize the economic return on investment. The cost of land is a sunk cost, and land prices in desirable urban locations have increased significantly in recent years. As the price for a given unit of housing, such as a townhouse, apartment, or condominium, is typically linked to the livable square footage of that unit, there is an inherent goal in these projects to maximize the amount of salable, livable square footage in the project, as well as the overall number of units. However, other factors, such as aesthetics, garage space, zoning regulations, and construction codes also impact and limit the number of units and the amount of livable square footage that can be designed into a multi-unit housing project. Hence, there is an ongoing need to find designs and design improvements that, given all considerations, maximize the number of units and livable square footage, still without excessively sacrificing aesthetic values in the design.

One common type of building used in multi-unit housing is what is known as the type 5 structure. Type 5 refers to the section in the International Building Code (IBC) that governs these structures. In general terms a Type 5 structure can be constructed using any material but wood frame construction techniques are the most common and cost effective. Type 5 structures are also desired because they can be built over relatively simple foundations. Compared to other construction technologies, the type 5 structure is relatively cost effective both in terms of material and labor. Thus the type 5 structures are economically attractive and are the most widely used kind of structure in a significant segment of the multi-unit housing industry. It would be particularly desired to develop multi-unit housing designs that offer improved square footage percentages suitable for type 5 structures.

A significant factor that is highly relevant in a multi-unit construction project is the zoning code for the municipality where the structure will be located. Some zoning codes are more restrictive than others. It is also frequently the case that economically desirable markets, where a real estate development can obtain the maximum sales revenue, have rigorous and restrictive zoning codes. In recent years some municipalities and governing authorities have toughened or added more restrictions to their zoning codes. Sometimes this is done in order to select or prefer projects that have a high end or up-market design. The zoning regulations for the municipality of Scottsdale, Ariz. provide one relevant example of a restrictive and rigorous zoning code.

In one aspect a municipality may limit the height of a multi-unit structure, often so as to limit density and not to obstruct mountain views. This height limit obviously restricts the number of floors that can be worked into a design, and three or fewer is a typical number of floors that can be used consistent with most such height limits. Another typical restriction is the ratio of building square footage to overall lot size as well as the amount or ratio of open space provided in the project. The code may set a ratio so that an overall project will maintain a desired balance between building footprint and the open area around the building. Still further, exposed paved areas such as driveways, drive lanes, and roadways may not count to that portion of square footage that is considered open area. In many projects both the zoning codes and realities of the market also demand that the housing also provide a parking area associated with the units, and exposed garage space typically is neither open area nor living area under the governing codes. And yet the zoning ordinance may also specify a minimum amount of public and private parking space for a given housing density, so as not to burden neighboring public spaces with the parking and traffic that would be associated with the multi-unit housing project. Hence there is a present and real need to develop type 5 multi-unit housing designs that maximize density and livable square footage in a manner consistent with demanding zoning codes in desirable market locations.

In addition to the economic objectives and regulatory hurdles that a multi-unit housing project must manage, the project must also provide attractive, good architecture. The aesthetics of the project relate significantly to salability and economic performance. Thus, rather than just build a dormitory or barracks-style housing, prior art designs noted for high density factors, a multi-unit housing designer that competes in the open market strives to achieve a result that incorporates valued architectural features such as 4-sided architecture, hidden garage doors, porches, roof decks, and hidden drive lanes and alleys. Other valued architecture traits include private streetscapes, direct garage-to-unit access, a front door visible from the street, and a “New Urbanism” look or feel to the project. Included in good streetscape appearance is a minimal negative visual appearance of driveways, drive lanes and garages. It would be desired to provide a multi-unit housing design that readily incorporates these features.

The “cluster concept”, illustrated in FIG. 33, is one previously known approach that architects have taken in dealing with the limits placed on projects by zoning codes. However, this concept is often not a desirable approach for multi-unit housing in locations having relatively high land prices. As shown in FIG. 33, a set of spaced dwellings 11 1, such as townhomes, are grouped around a common drive area 112, and this set of units is thus clustered around that area. The dwellings have a garage 113 attached to the unit 111. However, since the garage 113 must have access to the common drive area 112, each garage opening 114 faces onto the drive area 112; or stated in another way the garages 113 radiate outwardly from the common drive area 112. Thus in this configuration, the garages 113 must front and open to the common drive area 112. This design provides an advantage in that it helps to minimize space that must be given to the common drive 112. However, the design suffers in its aesthetic value because the “streetscape” or curb view of this cluster of dwellings 111 is dominated by garages 113. Features such as front doors and the dwelling facade are obscured or hidden, whereas it is generally desirable that these architectural elements be emphasized. This generally hurts or decreases the value of the units 111. Hence such a design is incompatible with higher end architecture which emphasizes a style sometimes referred to as “New Urbanism”, a style that emphasizes attractive streetscapes with no significantly visible garage structures or drive lanes. The New Urbanism style also is intended to reflect the styles and aesthetic values of the traditional urban residential neighborhoods in well-known American communities such as San Francisco, Georgetown, Lincoln Park, or Beacon Hill. Thus it would be desired to develop a new design for multi-unit housing that overcomes the shortcomings of the previously known “cluster concept”. It would be desired that the new design provide improved density factors while also avoiding the architectural negatives of the cluster concept.

Flexibility in design is also desired in multi-unit housing. For example, it is known to create an apartment building or condominium that has different kinds (floor plans) and sizes of models or units. A larger unit, a unit having relatively more square footage, will typically rent or sell for more than a smaller unit. However, the number of customers for such units is limited, and thus a designer knows to create a variety of unit sizes. Heretofore the chief difficulty has been that the designer or developer had to select the ratio of various units by projecting what the market would prefer once the units are on sale. It would be desired instead to create a project where the market itself selects the correct distribution of unit sizes, such that the builder has the flexibility to then construct these units while keeping with a previously established building shell/footprint in order to conform to the approved site plan. In addition such flexibility would also be desired to help the builder maximize economic performance while still following a previously estimated construction schedule and loan draw schedule.

Hence there has been identified a need to provide improved designs for multi-unit housing. It would be desired to provide a multi-unit housing that maximizes the density of the number of units and livable square footage for a given area of land. It would be desired to achieve this increased density for type 5 structures under the governance of restrictive modern zoning and building codes. It would also be desired that a new multi-unit housing design provide for the advantage of maximum square footage without sacrificing important architectural values. It would further be desired to provide a design for multi-unit housing that maximizes flexibility with respect to the selection and construction of multiple unit types and sizes. The present invention addresses one or more of these needs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A design concept has now been developed that provides for a multi-unit housing having a number of design advantages. In a type 5 structure, a multi-story building is constructed over a single foundation. The building is constructed so that multiple residential units are positioned back to back. A garage (or series of garages) is positioned on the ground level of the building. A single driveway lane provides access to the garage, and the garage itself is concealed from exterior view, except for at least a single drive lane or garage entrance. The garage entrance is typically not aligned with the building front, although it could be. In the first instance the design provides for a maximum of livable square footage for a given lot size.

In another aspect of the present invention, still by way of example only, there is provided a multi-unit, multi-floor housing structure built according to type 5 (IBC), wherein the housing structure is built under a zoning code setting minimum open air requirements and maximum height requirements, and wherein the structure has two fronts and two sides. The structure includes a ground floor having a central drive lane and private garage spaces positioned with garage doors opening on either side of the central drive lane; an exterior wall substantially surrounding the ground floor so as to restrict the view of the drive lane and garage doors from the exterior of the structure; a side entrance to the central drive lane; a plurality of living units positioned in the floors above the ground floor, each unit associated with an individual private garage; a vestibule area positioned on the ground floor, connected to the private garage space and providing access to the floor of the unit above the garage space; and wherein a first set of units are configured so as to have a front facing wall aligned along a first side of the structure, and wherein a second set of units are configured so as to have a front facing wall aligned along a second side of the structure, such that the first set of units are positioned in a paired back-to-back configuration with respect to the second set of units with a unit separation wall dividing each of the paired back-to-back units. The structure may also include a ground floor entry door for each unit wherein the entry door opens to the vestibule room. There may be a roof top deck connected to each unit. There may be a balcony connected to each unit on the second floor or the third floor. The multi-unit, multi-floor housing structure may further include a gate positioned on the ground floor so as to cover the central drive lane entrance. The unit separation wall dividing each unit in a paired back-to-back arrangement is a non-load bearing wall. Each individual unit is surrounded by three load bearing walls and one unit separation wall.

In still a further aspect of the present invention, and still by way of example only, there is provided a three story multi-unit type 5 (IBC) building that includes a building shell having four external load bearing walls; a plurality of units positioned within the building shell, wherein at least some of the plurality of units are positioned in a paired back-to-back configuration, such that two individual units in the paired back-to-back configuration are divided by a non-load bearing unit separation wall, and wherein at least some of the plurality of units are positioned in a side-by-side adjacent configuration such that units in the side-by-side adjacent configuration are divided by a load bearing side demising wall; a central drive lane positioned on the ground floor below the second floor of the building; a plurality of private garage spaces having garage door openings wherein each private garage space is positioned on either side of the central drive lane such that its garage door opens onto the drive lane, and wherein each private garage space is associated with an individual unit; a vestibule associated with each individual unit, the vestibule connected to each private garage space, and each vestibule connected to the second floor of its associated unit; a first floor front door associated with each unit providing access between the building exterior and the vestibule; and wherein the building structure conceals the ground floor garage from view from the exterior of the building structure. The building may have two individual units configured in the back-to-back arrangement. The building may have three individual units wherein two of the three units are configured in the paired back-to-back arrangement, and wherein the third unit is configured in a side-by-side adjacent relationship with the two back-to-back units such that a side demising load bearing wall is positioned between the third unit and the two back-to-back units. The building may have four individual units wherein the first and second of the four units are configured in a paired back-to-back configuration, and the third and fourth of the four units are also configured in a paired back-to-back configuration, and wherein the first and second units are positioned in a side-by-side adjacent relationship within the building with respect to the third and fourth units, and wherein a non-load bearing unit separation wall divides the first and second units and a non-load bearing unit separation wall divides the third and fourth units, and wherein a side demising wall that is load bearing divides the first and second units from the third and fourth units. The building may have six individual units configured such that the first and second of the four units are configured in a paired back-to-back configuration, the third and fourth of the four units are configured in a paired back-to-back configuration, and the fifth and sixth of the four units are configured in a paired back-to-back configuration, wherein the first and second units are positioned in a side-by-side adjacent relationship within the building with respect to the third and fourth units, and the third and fourth units are positioned in a side-by-side adjacent relationship within the building with respect to the fifth and sixth units, wherein a non-load bearing unit separation wall divides the first and second units, a non-load bearing unit separation wall divides the third and fourth units, and a non-load bearing unit separation wall divides the fifth and sixth units, and wherein a side demising load bearing wall that divides the first and second units from the third and fourth units, and a side demising load bearing wall divides the third and fourth units from the fifth and sixth units.

In still a further embodiment, and still by way of example only, there is provided a method for building a multi-unit type 5 (IBC) residential structure comprising the steps of: constructing a building shell having multiple parcels which can be arranged to configure a plurality of individual units within the shell; selecting a particular unit from among the plurality of unit options by combining individual parcels to create a unit; and placing a unit separation wall within the building shell so as to create the selected unit configuration. The step of constructing the building shell may also include the step of constructing a stair well for each possible unit, placing exterior windows, building a private garage space for each possible unit, and positioning a front door for each possible unit. The step of constructing the building shell may also include the step of building at least three load bearing walls of each potential unit. The method may also include the step of designing the multi-unit building and obtaining municipal permits for the construction of the shell building. The step of selecting a particular unit may be performed by the purchaser of the unit. The method may also include the step of designing a plurality of floor plans for each of the plurality of units. The method may also include the step of selecting a particular floor plan, and the step of selecting a particular floor plan may be performed by the purchaser of the unit. The method also includes the step of constructing the finished unit and selected floor plan.

In still an additional embodiment, by way of example only, there is provided a method for building a multi-unit three story type 5 (IBC) structure so as to provide for flexibility in selecting unit size and room layout after building the shell of the structure, the method comprising the steps of: designing a building with living space on the second and third floors of the building; dividing areas on the second and third floor of each building into multiple parcels; designing a plurality of potential units based on possible combinations of the individual parcels; designing a plurality of potential floor plans for each potential unit; constructing a building shell; and offering potential units and potential floor plans for sale. The method may further include the step of requesting and receiving zoning permits for the building based on the design including the design of the potential units and floor plans. The method may also include the step of recording a plat for the building based on the building design having multiple parcels. The method may also include the step of building an individual unit without requesting a replat of the building.

Other independent features and advantages of the multi-unit housing with integral garage will become apparent from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side cutaway view of a multi-unit building, showing optional placement of a unit separation wall, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side cutaway view of a multi-unit building showing one placement of a unit separation wall;

FIG. 3 is a side cutaway view of a multi-unit building showing a further placement of a unit separation wall;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of the multi-unit building shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the multi-unit building shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of the multi-unit building shown in FIG. 3;

FIG. 7 is a first floor plan of the multi-unit building shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is a side cutaway view of a multi-unit building, and having an optional flooring configuration, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a side cutaway view of the multi-unit building shown in FIG. 9 having no unit separation wall;

FIG. 10 is a side cutaway view of the multi-unit building shown in FIG. 9 showing one placement of the unit separation wall;

FIG. 11 is a top plan view of the multi-unit building shown in FIG. 8;

FIGS. 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17 are top plan views of further embodiments of the multi-unit building shown in FIG. 8 having different unit configurations;

FIG. 18 is a first floor plan of the multi-unit building shown in FIG. 8;

FIG. 19 is a further side cutaway view of a multi-unit building, displaying a further optional flooring configuration, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 20 is a top plan view of the multi-unit building shown in FIG. 19;

FIGS. 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26are top plan views of further embodiments of the multi-unit building shown in FIG. 19 having different unit configurations;

FIG. 27 is a first floor plan of the multi-unit building shown in FIG. 8;

FIG. 28 is further side cutaway view of a multi-unit building, displaying still a further optional flooring configuration, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 29 is a top plan view of the multi-unit building shown in FIG. 28;

FIG. 30 is first floor plan of the multi-unit building shown in FIG. 28;

FIG. 31 is a perspective view of a multi-unit building, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 32 is a plan view of multiple buildings aligned in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 33 is a plan view of a multi-unit housing showing the “cluster” arrangement of housing units known in the prior art;

FIG. 34 is a top plan view of a floor plan for the second floor of an individual unit of a multi-unit building, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 35 is a top plan view of an optional floor plan for the second floor of an individual unit of a multi-unit building, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 36 is a top plan view of a floor plan for the third floor of an individual unit of a multi-unit building, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 37 is a top plan view of an optional floor plan for the third floor of an individual unit of a multi-unit building, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 38 is a top plan view of a further optional floor plan for the third floor of an individual unit of a multi-unit building, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 39 is a top plan view of a floor plan for the third floor of a larger-sized unit of a multi-unit building, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 40 is a top plan view of an optional floor plan for the third floor of a larger-sized unit of a multi-unit building, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 41 is a top plan view of a still further optional floor plan for the third floor of a larger-sized unit of a multi-unit building, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 42 is a top plan view of a typical prior art town home configuration;

FIG. 43 is a flow chart illustrating steps in a method of construction, according to a preferred embodiment;

FIG. 44 is a top plan view of two buildings having a commonly aligned central drive lane with one street access lane connecting with the drive lane;

FIG. 45 is a top plan view of three buildings having a commonly aligned central drive lane with multiple access points; and

FIG. 46 is a top plan view of three buildings having a T-shaped configuration of their drive lanes.

LIST OF REFERENCE NUMERALS

Wherever possible, the same reference numbers will be used throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like parts.

  • 10 multi-unit structure
  • 11 townhouses (units)
  • 12 central drive lane
  • 13 private garage
  • 14 garage wall
  • 15 garage entrance
  • 16 vestibule
  • 17 stair well
  • 18 balcony
  • 19 unit separation wall
  • 20 second entrance/exit
  • 21 ground floor
  • 22 second floor
  • 23 third floor
  • 24 roof deck
  • 25 porch/patio/balcony
  • 26 roof
  • 27 garage door
  • 31 first unit
  • 32 second unit
  • 33 elevator
  • 34 window
  • 35 garage door
  • 41 front door
  • 51 left side
  • 52 right side
  • 55 gate/garage cover
  • 59 town homes
  • 61-68 buildings
  • 71-78 central drive lanes
  • 81-88 garage area
  • 90 open space
  • 101-104 drive space
  • 111 units or condominiums in a “cluster concept” design
  • 112 common drive
  • 113 garages
  • 114 garage openings
  • 121 dashed line position
  • 131 media room
  • 132 bedroom
  • 133 powder room
  • 134 pantry
  • 141 master bedroom
  • 142 second bedroom
  • 143 loft
  • 144 large second bedroom
  • 145 game room
  • 146 kitchen components
  • 151 master bedroom
  • 152 second bedroom
  • 153 third bedroom/loft
  • 154 game room
  • 155 alternate second bedroom

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The following detailed description of the invention is merely exemplary in nature and is not intended to limit the invention or the application and uses of the invention. Furthermore, there is no intention to be bound by any theory presented in the preceding background of the invention or the following detailed description of the invention. Reference will now be made in detail to exemplary embodiments of the invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

The Core Design. Back-to-Back Unit Configuration Over Center Drive Lane and Garage Area

Referring initially to FIGS. 1, 8, and 19 there is shown a schematic design of a multi-unit structure 10 that features back to back townhouses 11 (or units) with a concealed and covered central drive lane 12, and private garages 13. FIG. 31 further illustrates a perspective view of such a structure. This kind of structure is generally referred to as the Core Design. This Core Design is a multi-unit structure 10 that may be built using standard wood framing according to type 5 of the IBC; however other construction techniques can also be used with the Core Design. These figures illustrate common features of the Core design. For example, it is noted that central drive lane 12 and garages 13 are located on ground floor 21. Residential areas are positioned primarily on second floor 22 and third floor 23. However, some form of ground floor access, whether through a vestibule 16, entrance hallway, stairway landing, or other private living area, is also connected to the second floor living area 22. In a preferred embodiment, a ground floor vestibule 16 is connected to both the garage 13, and a front door access 41. A means of moving from the vestibule 16 to the second floor 22 is also provided, such as preferably a stairwell 17 and/or an elevator. A private roof top deck 24 may be positioned on the roof 26. Optionally balconies 18 may be connected to both second floor 22 and third floor 23. Each private garage 13 includes a garage door 27 which opens onto central drive lane 12.

Referring especially to FIG. 24, a top or plan view corresponding to FIG. 19, a preferred embodiment of building 10 includes a first side or left side 51 of structure 10 which comprises first units 31, which are positioned so as to abut second units 32 generally positioned on the right side 52 or second side of the structure. (It should be appreciated that the terms “left” and “right” are used as a convention to assist in the explanation of preferred embodiments as shown in the drawings.) Further each of the first units 31 abut against each of the second units 32 along a unit separation wall 19, which is the back-to-back configuration of paired units. FIG. 24 illustrates a six-plex comprising three individual first unit 31 and three individual second units 32. However FIGS. 5 and 16 show alternative embodiments having a different number of units although these units are also arranged with a back-to-back configuration. Referring again to FIG. 19, a set of three units is aligned on a first side of building 10 each of which abuts a reciprocal unit aligned on the opposite, second side of building 10.

Referring now generally to FIGS. 1 through 30, these figures illustrate how many variations can be achieved in the sizing and spacing of individual units within a single multi-unit structure. While a detailed description of these embodiments is offered later, it is here noted that paired units, i.e., units in the back-to-back arrangement need not be the same size. For example, by shifting the unit separation wall 19, the wall that divides the units on a given floor, one unit can be larger than the other on that particular floor. This is shown, for example, in FIGS. 15, 17, and 26. Optionally, units can be approximately same sized, as was shown in FIGS. 5, 16, and 24. As a still further option, a single unit can occupy the entire floor space where two units would otherwise be positioned by eliminating the unit separation wall. This is shown, for example, in FIGS. 12, 13, 14,21,22,23, and 29.

Referring again to FIGS. 1, 8, and 19, these drawings also emphasize the space savings, in terms of additional livable square footage, that is achieved in the Core Design. In prior art multi-unit structures such as town homes, a drive lane is open to the air. Obviously a drive lane is not livable square footage; and further, under a typical stringent zoning ordinance, such an open drive lane is square footage that does not count toward the open space requirement. Hence, the drive lane under prior art designs is typically square footage that is functional but not revenue producing, and actually hurts the project's open air space. In contrast, the advantage of the current design is that the drive lane 12 is covered by livable structure, and consequently there is living space that overlaps the drive lane area and connects the back-to-back units.

The covered drive lane of the Core Design also leads to other advantages in the multi-unit housing. FIGS. 7, 18, and 27 show exemplary embodiments of the ground floor and garage area layouts. An individual accesses the garage area, including preferably private garage spaces 13, through a central drive lane 12. When an automobile enters the central drive lane 12, it is noted that the automobile is now positioned under other portions of building 10. Private garage spaces 13 front the drive lane 12 through individual garage doors 27. If desired, a layout can be configured that includes open parking rather than private garage spaces 13, though a preferred embodiment does include private garage spaces 13 with garage doors 27. Also in the preferred embodiment, each individual private garage space 13 also provides direct access to each unit 11 associated with that private garage space 13. For example, the private garage space 13 opens by door to a vestibule 16 or similar space such as a mud room, utility room, landing area, stair well, or other private space that is part of the individual unit 11. To take a further example, the vestibule 16, can also be arranged so as to run along a back wall or a side wall of private garage space 13.

In a further preferred embodiment, central drive lane 12 may be covered with an entry gate 55 security gate or covering. The entry gate 55 can be attached to the exterior ground floor walls of building 10 and allows access to central drive lane 12. A vehicle driver would typically open entry gate 55 by known control means such as radio or electronic signal connected to an electro-mechanical opening means. Aesthetically, entry gate 55 acts to hide or conceal central drive lane 12 and the internal private garage spaces 13. Thus an observer positioned outside the building does not observe the series of garages positioned within the building. The gate 55 may additionally blend with the external walls of structure 10 for a pleasing architectural effect.

Referring to FIG. 31, it should be appreciated that structure 10 incorporates a number of desirable architectural features. Structure 10 has a concealed garage area; the drive lane 12 and individual private garages 13 are generally hidden by an external garage wall 14 and gate 55. The structure itself may have just a single garage entrance 15. Moreover, garage entrance 15 is positioned with respect to the complete building so that it is a side entrance rather than a front entrance; and thus garage entrance 15 is further hidden from the street view. The layout enhances the visual effect or “curb appeal” of structure 10. Referring to FIGS. 7. 18, and 27 it is noted that the residential units incorporate a ground floor front door 41. The design, however, can be customized so as to allow front door 41 to provide access to any number of different areas such as a vestibule 16, a stair well landing, or directly to private garage 13. Each unit 11 in FIG. 31 may include a personal balcony 25. As illustrated in other drawings, the structure 10 could include a roof top deck 24 for each unit 11. The overall structure 10 in these figures has 4-sided architecture. Thus the building 10 avoids the dreary appearance of a dormitory or barracks.

An additional advantage of the Core Design is that the total structure can be built on a single foundation. Both the first floor section 21, incorporating the drive lane 12 and the attached private garages 13, and the above-ground residential portion of the building (second and third floors 22 and 23) can rest on the same foundation. Unlike other prior art buildings, there is no need for two foundations, one supporting a garage and a second foundation supporting the residence. Although load bearing walls can be placed in different locations, in a preferred embodiment, the four external walls of the overall building structure are load bearing walls. The demising wall is also preferably a load bearing wall. The demising wall is that wall which divides units that are positioned in the adjacent side-to-side arrangement within a structure. The demising wall 500 is noted in FIGS. 12-17 and FIGS. 21-26. However, the unit separation wall 19 which divides units connected in the back-to-back arrangement is not a load bearing wall.

Referring again to FIG. 11, there is described a further feature of the Core Design. In dashed lines 121, FIG. 11 notes three possible positions for the unit separation walls 19. These possible positions divide that floor into eight possible parcels, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H. Thus, the building can be permitted and platted with such a parcel configuration, and likewise the building can obtain zoning approval with this parcel configuration. Then, at a later time, individual parcels can be combined so as to create a unit. For example, after the shell of the building has been constructed, a consumer can select a unit size by combing parcels A and B, or by combining parcels A, B, and C, or by combining parcels A, B, C, and D. Obviously a variety of parcel configurations and combinations are possible. However, in terms of constructing the final unit, once the unit size has been selected, there is no need for further platting or zoning approval because the unit is just a combination of previously established parcels. This is one of the advantageous developments of the building and building system for multi-unit structures described herein.

Window Configuration

The Core Design just described also provides advantages over prior art designs with respect to window configuration and usage. FIG. 42 illustrates a typical prior art town home design. A series of town homes 59 are laid out in a generally side-to-side alignment. An uncovered drive space, and perhaps an attached private garage, abuts the rear of each town home. The front of the building faces a public street, and the building front can thus be ornamented in a desirable fashion. However, the interior units, those units other than the end units, share two side walls with each neighbor and therefore only have forward and rearward window configurations. Additionally the prior art town home configuration is characterized by individual units that are long and narrow or shaped like a “bowling alley.” A typical width of this town home design is typically 16 to 20 feet, and often approximately 17 feet. Developers tend to make them as narrow as possible to fit a maximum number of units on a lot. This narrow shape limits the possibilities for varied room layouts within the unit, another undesirable feature. Also this design of prior art town home typically has several shortcomings. The design emphasizes architecturally only a single exterior wall; it has only front and back windows for the majority of units, and the units are generally narrow. Contrast that now with the Core Design shown for example in FIGS. 21-26. Multiple units now have 2 contiguous window walls, a front and a side. The general layout of the unit 11 has widened, now approximately 25 feet, but preferably between approximately 24 to 28 feet. It has widened compared to that of the prior art narrow townhome. This wider unit arrangement allows for much more flexibility in the interior arrangement of rooms, as discussed further herein. Additionally, the entire building stands as a unit in that it presents 4 sides for observation; hence the design is recognized by the architectural term of “4-sided architecture.” Each side of the building is equally important architecturally, and all sides can be dressed up. Thus the new design is desirable from an architectural standpoint. From an economic standpoint, however, the Core Design also achieves density factors at least as good as, and often superior to, the prior art “bowling alley” concept. Thus the Core Design concept enhances both the aesthetics and the commercial value of the property.

Maximized Open Space in Lot

Referring next to FIG. 32, there is shown a plan view of multiple structures, each of which is built according to an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 32 usefully illustrates the space optimization that can be achieved in a single construction project when a number of individual buildings are arranged in a selected layout. For example, FIG. 32 illustrates individual buildings 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, and 68. Each building covers a drive lane, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, and 78. And each building includes garage area 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, and 88. The buildings 61-68 are positioned within a common open space 90. Further, each of the buildings is connected by open air driveway 101, 102, 103, 104 and 110. It may also include public parking areas 107.

In order to obtain approval in many municipalities, a site plan such as FIG. 32 must demonstrate a minimum amount of common open space 90. However, spaces such as open air driveways 101-104 do not count to the open space. Parking areas 107 do not get credit as open space. And, although the design in FIG. 32 does not have an exterior detached garage, such a structure typically does not count to the open space requirement. Other code requirements typically require that drive spaces and roadways have a minimum dimension so as to allow for good traffic flow and safe vehicle maneuvering and turning. Further, every amount of square footage that is devoted to non-livable space, spaces such as driveways and garages, is space that is also lost as a potential source of revenue. Advantageously, the design and configuration of FIG. 32 incorporates several novel features that maximize both open space and livable square footage.

The design of FIG. 32 has covered drive lanes 71-78. The ground square footage of this area is captured as livable space in the second and third floors of the structure. Thus, this is space that is not lost in terms of the ability to produce revenue. Additionally, the individual buildings are aligned so that open air driveways 101-104 only cover a minimum of area. This is achieved by aligning certain of the various buildings such that the covered drive lanes of the buildings are in alignment. For example buildings 61, 62, and 63 are linked by drive space 101 and 102. These buildings are positioned so that their respective drive lanes, 71, 72, and 73, are set along the same line. A vehicle, turns off driveway 105, and enters building 61 through its garage entrance 15. The vehicle then proceeds through building 61 along that building's central drive lane 71. Building 61 includes a second entrance/exit 20, and the vehicle exits building 61 therethrough. Continuing in the same straight line, the vehicle passes across drive space 101 and then enters building 62 through its side entrance. The vehicle continues through building 62, passing along that building's central drive lane 72 until it passes out of that building onto drive space 102. The vehicle can continue in a straight line into building 63. Building 63 has only a single side entrance. Note that drive space 102 is only the minimal area needed to provide a straight drive connection between buildings 62 and 63. Referring again to drive space 101, it is noted that this space also connects with building 64. Thus, if the vehicle driver had instead wished to proceed to that building, the vehicle would have turned upon exiting building 61 and proceeded along drive space 101 until reaching the side entrance for building 64. It can also be noted that drive spaces 101 and 102 are the flipped mirror image of drive spaces 103 and 104. Thus, all buildings in this plan are arranged for a minimum drive space configuration.

Building constructed according to embodiments of the Core Design can be configured in a variety of ways to further minimize open air space. Some further examples building arrangements are also shown in FIGS. 44 through 46. FIG. 44 shows the arrangement in which two buildings 435 share a common drive lane 431 that connects with the central drive lane 432 within each building. Thus the external drive lane 431 and the internal drive lanes 432 are in alignment. A street access lane 433 meets the external drive lane 431 in a T-shaped intersection. FIG. 45 shows the situation in which three buildings 445 share a common drive lane 441. It is noted that two access lanes 443 positioned between neighboring buildings 445 intersect with drive lane 441 at T-shaped intersections, but that each of the two access lanes 443 lead in opposite directions away from drive lane 441. In addition to entering the buildings through access lanes 443, the buildings 445 may also be entered through entrances 446 at opposite ends of the building configuration. Finally, FIG. 46 shows a further configuration in which a drive lane 451 positioned within three buildings 455 has a T-shape. Thus two of the buildings 455 have central drive lanes 452 that are in alignment, though central drive lane of the third building is generally at 90 degrees to this alignment. It is further noted that entrances 456 may be positioned within any of the buildings.

Shell Lot Flexibility

Referring again to FIGS. 1 through 30, there are displayed a variety of unit layouts that may be configured in a single building structure. FIGS. 5 and 6 illustrate a building with two units. In FIG. 5 the units are approximately equal sized; and in FIG. 6 one unit is made larger than the paired unit by adjusting the location of the unit separation wall as compared with its positioning FIG. 5. It is noted that the floor denoted in FIGS. 5 and 6 may be either the second or third floors or both floors. Next, FIGS. 12 through 17 show a variety of unit configurations in a building having three or four units. Again, four units of equal size can be configured within a single building as shown in FIG. 16, or, four units of varying size can be created as in FIGS. 15 and 17. Still further, one larger unit can be created, as in FIGS. 12, 13, and 14. This is done by eliminating one dividing wall. Though not illustrated, a structure may also be created with just two units in this sized building. Next, a single unit may also be created with up to six units. FIG. 24, for example, shows a single building structure in which 6 equally sized units are positioned, with three units aligned on one side of the building, and three units aligned on the opposite side of the building. The units are positioned in a back-to-back configuration. FIGS. 25 and 26 show alternative configurations in which the six units have varying size. Further, FIGS. 21, 22, and 23 shows how two units may actually be combined so as to create a single large sized unit. Also those figures illustrate how the positioning of the single large-sized unit can be varied with respect to paired units; the large unit may be positioned on a side location as in FIG. 21 or it may have the interior position as in FIG. 22. A large unit may also be configured in a corner position as in FIG. 23

The flexibility in unit configuration illustrated above has significant economic potential for a project developer. This is because the flexibility allows the purchasing public, the open market, to determine the optimum configuration. For example, if there is a higher demand for larger units such that purchase price per square footage is maximized by configuring more large units (and allowing for any loss in price per square footage from smaller units that may be in a back-to-back arrangement with the larger unit), then the building can be finished so as to create the larger units. Or, alternatively, if there is a higher market demand and consequently an economic premium for middle-sized units, the buildings can be finished accordingly. The same shell building structure is initially built in either case. Note that the outer boundaries of the structure are all the same in each of these figures. Finish work, and in particular the placement of the dividing wall between back-to-back units (or the elimination of a dividing wall) that sets the array of unit size, is delayed until the units are offered for sale, for example through the display of model units located on the site. Then, once actual sales or sales projections based on other sales are obtained, the builder can then complete the building interiors. This flexibility also allows a builder to more efficiently use work crews in that the buildings need not be completed, start-to-finish, all at the same time; instead once a unit is ordered a work crew can be hired to finish that unit.

The term “shell lots” describes how the building shell of a multifamily building is divided up into potential lots or parcels within that building. The assemblage of contiguous lots makes up each individual unit 11 or home. These home configurations comprise a kind of jigsaw puzzle, see for example the variety of configurations in FIGS. 21-26, that offers a significant degree of flexibility, and possibility of increased profit, to the builder. Structural systems such as mechanical, plumbing, fire sprinkler, window placement, balconies, and elevations are designed with respect to the shell of the building in a manner that the buyer can choose a particular unit configuration without incurring any additional costs or delays in construction.

In a preferred application of the shell lot concept, the building is pre-platted with multiple parcels that form the possible units, such that when a buyer chooses the home size, the parcels are combined into one said unit and the building does not need to go through a plat amendment or replatting. This avoids delays and carrying costs. Without this flexibility, the developer and buyer could experience significant time delays and costs arising from surveying expense, plat amendment, re-recording of the plat, amendment of the public report, architectural drawings, city approvals, and city re-inspections. Depending on how quickly the municipality works, this time savings could be up to 12 months. This can be a significant savings in terms of carrying cost, overhead, and administration expenses.

Some further details in the design and construction of the shell lot explain the ease with which a variety of unit sizes, and later floor plans, can be created within a single building structure. With respect to the structural system, for a type 5 building the load bearing walls are on the outside of the shell configuration. No internal walls within a given unit bear structural weight. This allows for the moving of walls to determine unit size in the shell lot configuration. With respect to the floor joist system, an open web floor joist system is preferably employed. This allows for easy placement and movement of mechanical, plumbing, electrical, and fire sprinkler systems. The HVAC system is preferably positioned on the roof. Additionally the HVAC placement is such that chases and runs can be placed regardless of the unit size selected. The exterior front door is also positioned such that it need not be moved in the various units; rather it is the unit separation wall that moves. Stair well placement, an important aspect to the structural engineering of a building (especially a type 5 building), is fixed. The various units and room configurations are drawn to accommodate the stair well placement. It is finally noted that this unique system and structure can nevertheless accommodate known construction methods, such as used in type 5 building structures, such that a number of subcontractors can competitively bid on the project. This assists in keeping construction costs low.

The variation in units within a building or set of neighboring buildings provides a further advantage to those projects that employ this concept. This diversity in dwelling sizes adds an organic feel to the overall project. Where, for example, neighboring buildings are varied between 3-plexes, 4-plexes, 5-plexes, and 6-plexes (and even including others), this alternation in size also adds to the flowing and natural feel of the space. This organic and natural feel of such a project is in contrast with the dormitory or barracks-like layouts of other apartment dwellings.

It is to be appreciated that the shell lot flexibility described above is different from mere remodeling work. Remodeling work has of course been known in the past; and in typical remodeling work it is required that walls, whether load bearing or non-load bearing, be eliminated or moved so as to open up and change the floor plan. Remodeling work is typically expensive and often not economically cost effective in that various environmental and sanitary systems may need reworking. If for example plumbing lines must be repositioned, mechanical ductwork be reconfigured, or electrical feeds relocated, the cost is significant and sometimes prohibitive, especially in the finishing steps of multi-unit housing.

In contrast to remodeling work, the Core Design is initially constructed in the building shell such that the unit separation wall, the wall that divides pairs of units in their back-to-back positioning, can be repositioned during construction. Advantageously, the Core Design structure is built such that load bearing walls are the external walls for a given unit, excepting the unit separation wall that divides paired units. Thus, after the shell structure has been constructed, a builder can determine a final position for the unit separation wall-or whether to place a unit separation wall at all. In a preferred embodiment the flexibility in the final positioning and setting of a unit separation wall is limited to a set number of optional positions such that the unit separation wall can be moved to any one of several predetermined possible locations without need to move a load bearing wall. This preferred embodiment thus allows a builder to make a rough installation of certain systems such as electrical/power input, plumbing systems, and environmental control systems. This final positioning of the unit separation wall does not entail any reconfiguring or repositioning of the main mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems.

The designed flexibility of unit separation wall positioning is illustrated by FIGS. 4, 11, and 20. In dashed lines 121, these figures illustrate possible locations for the final position of unit separation wall 19. The dashed lines 121 are positioned such that the selection of any one of these positions does not alter the structural engineering of the building. Further, these pre-allowed positions are also set so that a selection of any of them would not require movement of the main mechanical, plumbing, or electrical systems. Thus, shell lot flexibility first allows flexibility in terms of paired unit sizing. However, the shell lot flexibility is also advantageous in terms of construction management. The shell of the building, along with basic mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems, can be built first. Then, later, once final unit size is set, the remainder of the interior of each unit, including construction of the unit separation wall, can take place.

Illustrating this construction method, reference is now made to the flow chart in FIG. 43. First considering step 403, this step entails construction of a shell lot. The construction allows for possible alternative positioning of a unit separation wall. In the following step 404, a consumer (or other decision-maker) selects a unit option. This acts to determine the unit size. After selecting the unit size, in a subsequent step 406, the builder places the unit separation wall so as to create at least one unit having the desired option selected by the consumer. It is noted that the consumer can also select a floor plan, step 405, when selecting the unit size, though this is not a requirement. Thus step 405 can actually take place after step 406. However, it is expected that in most cases, the consumer would select floor plan options at a time in close proximity to selecting the size. Returning to the top of the flow chart, it is also noted that the process can begin with the developer creating a design for the multi-unit building, step 401. This design denotes the various parcels which relate to each possible unit option. Then, even before construction begins, the developer can obtain the necessary permits and plats, step 402, related to the design.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that a significant advantage realized by the feature of shell lot flexibility relates to the construction approval process. It is possible to have the designs for a Core Design type project pre-approved before construction begins. Further, the pre-approval would allow for variations in the unit selection. This represents the potential for a significant time savings and therefore savings in construction carrying costs for the builder. Thus an additional step is a pre-approval of lots.

Custom Urban Floor Plans

In a further embodiment, the Core Design also provides for flexibility in the selection of a particular floor plan for a given unit size. Once an individual consumer has decided on which unit size option he or she prefers, for that unit size the consumer may choose from a further selection of floor plans. Referring next to FIGS. 34-42, a selection of possible floor plans is illustrated. Thus, once the builder has positioned a unit separation wall and set a given unit size, the builder can also finish each of these units according to a variety of floor plans.

An example of this is illustrated through FIGS. 34-38. These figures relate generally to one embodiment of a unit having approximately 2300 square feet in total space. Each of the floors has approximately 1050 square feet, and the additional square footage is provided on the ground floor. Speaking initially with respect to FIGS. 34 and 35, these floor plan options relate to options for the second floor. The consumer (or other decision-maker), having selected the unit size, can also determine which floor plan is preferred. For example, FIG. 34 provides a floor plan having a media room 131. The other option, FIG. 35, provides a bedroom 132 on the second floor. Other differences include a powder room 133, FIG. 34, or a pantry 134, FIG. 35. This example is illustrative only, and it is noted that other kinds of floor plans are possible.

Referring next to FIGS. 36, 37, and 38, there are shown possible floor plans for the third floor of the unit. FIG. 36 provides an option with three bedrooms, a master 141, a second 142, and a loft 143. FIG. 37 is an option with two bedrooms, a master 141 and a relatively large second bedroom 144. FIG. 38 is an option with a single master bedroom 141 and a game room 145.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, that each of these floor plan options can be constructed to the same shell. Moreover, each of the layouts is selected so as to be compatible with the construction stage that is achieved when building the shell. For example, key components such as windows 34, stairways 17, elevators 33, balconies 25, and kitchen components 146 are similarly positioned in each of the floor plans. Again, load bearing walls are the external walls, and in this manner the shell can be built and supported without need for placement of unit separation walls. In this manner the builder can first build the shell and then defer building the final floor plan until the consumer/marketplace allocates the optimal floor plan layout.

Referring next to FIGS. 39-41, there are shown still further optional floor plans for a larger-sized unit in a multi-unit building. FIG. 39 illustrates a first optional floor plan for the third floor of such a unit; this floor plan includes a master bedroom 151, second bedroom 152, and third bedroom/loft 153. The option shown in FIG. 40 offers a master bedroom 151, second bedroom 152, and game room 154. FIG. 41 shows a further option with a master bedroom 151 and second bedroom 155. The consumer is free to choose from among these options for the third floor in a larger-sized unit.

A method of construction can be identified that embodies the selection and construction from among the floor plan options. First, a builder constructs the building shell. At some point, concurrent with shell selection or at a later time, a unit size is defined. As described in the previous section, this would preferably be done by the consumer. It will be appreciated, however, that a first consumer may select a given unit size, and in so doing the consumer defines where the unit separation wall is to be placed. Having done that, the size of the paired unit, the unit that is positioned back-to-back is also defined. Thus, a certain group of consumers may select a floor plan without also having selected the unit size. Once a unit size is determined, the consumer (or other decision maker) can next select a floor plan. At this point, the builder can finish construction of the entire unit.

The custom floor plan flexibility gives the builder further advantages in building a multiunit project. First, by giving the consumer further options from which to select from, the builder increases the likelihood that units will be sold and sold quickly. Quick sales reduce carrying costs for the project and increase its profitability. Further, the builder has additional flexibility in construction and the related costs. For example a builder need not incur the construction costs, both labor and materials, for finishing a unit, until that unit is sold. In this manner, carrying costs can be minimized by minimizing the time between construction and the closing of the unit. And again, in the preferred method of building custom urban floor plans from a set number of pre-designed options, the builder can have building permits and approvals in place well before the actual construction takes place. In a preferred embodiment, if there are any permit problems with a proposed unit design, the builder determines that during the planning/approval process for the entire project before any significant costs have been incurred with respect to the particular unit.

While the invention has been described with reference to a preferred embodiment or embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from the essential scope thereof. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to a particular embodiment disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims.