Title:
Methods & systems for modular buildings
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Systems and methods providing a modular building that is self-contained within a standard shipping container, wherein the pre-fabricated panel wall components are easily assembled to form a predetermined structure using a cam-based component connector. system that provides for mating, dual-track alignment and locking of the modular panels with each other along their adjoining seams



Inventors:
Leahy, Charles H. (Asheville, NC, US)
Application Number:
12/322380
Publication Date:
09/10/2009
Filing Date:
02/02/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/745.02
International Classes:
E04H1/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20070251180MOVABLE WALLS FOR ON-SITE CONSTRUCTIONNovember, 2007Gosling et al.
20070137118Composite frame for an openingJune, 2007Lemons
20080202041ROLL BAFFLEAugust, 2008Dillon
20070175113METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR DEFLECTING LIQUID FROM A FOUNDATION WALLAugust, 2007Moule
20090266007WILDLIFE EXCLUDEROctober, 2009Dreisacker
20090193725Prefabricated building structure with collapsible roof sectionsAugust, 2009Harrisson et al.
20050193647Artificial landscaping timber systemSeptember, 2005Jones
20100071288Apparatus for fastening a finishing stripMarch, 2010Jun
20090064627Flush Mount Panels With InterconnectsMarch, 2009Struthers et al.
20080185748Panel of Roofing ShinglesAugust, 2008Kalkanoglu



Primary Examiner:
LAUX, JESSICA L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NEO IP (DURHAM, NC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A modular building system for creating an energy-efficient structure comprising: a multiplicity of pre-fabricated panel wall components and roof components, each having a face side and a back side and four edges including a pair of spaced-apart parallel tracks that run the length of at least two opposite edges for aligning the edges together to form a seam, wherein the components further include locking components for securedly attaching the components together along the seams.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the seams are vertical.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the locking components are embedded mechanical locking components.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein the mechanical locking components include mating, dual-track alignment seams and a cam-based connector that extends between a first position and a second position, wherein the at least two edges are first aligned by the mating, dual-track alignment seams when the cam-based connector is in the first position (unlocked) and then the connector is moved to the second position to lock the wall components together, thereby providing an energy efficient seam where the components are connected, aligned, and locked together.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein the wall components are attachable by aligning the tracks from two wall components with each other and locking them together mechanically.

6. The system of claim 1, wherein the multiplicity of components are assembled at mating edges that provide for aligned and locked seams.

7. The system of claim 1, further including special wall components that are shaped to provide corners for a rectangular structure, wherein corners have no seam or joint.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein the modular wall panel components include insulation between the face side and the back side.

9. The system of claim 1, wherein the modular wall panel components have an energy efficiency rating for energy star ratings.

10. The system of claim 1, wherein the system further includes optional components selected from the group consisting of at least one window, electrical conduit, electrical wiring, switches, outlets, lighting fixtures, plumbing, plumbing elements, and combinations thereof.

11. The system of claim 1, further including appliances or equipment that are operable after installation in the building after the components have been assembled together to form the building.

12. A method for providing a modular building structure comprising the steps of: providing a containerized kit wherein the kit is sized and configured to be enclosed by a housing and includes therewithin a modular building system further comprising a predetermined number of modular wall components, a roof system, and at least one door; providing instructions for assembling the modular building system for forming a complete building unit, including aligning the modular wall components along their opposite edges via a double mating spaced apart rail that extends along the length of the wall to provide an energy efficient seam when wall components are joined.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the system further includes optional components selected from the group consisting of at least one window, electrical conduit, electrical wiring, switches, outlets, lighting fixtures, plumbing, plumbing elements, and combinations thereof.

14. A method for installing a modular building structure, comprising the steps of:

14. The method of claim 12, wherein the system further includes appliances or equipment that are operable after installation in the building after the components have been assembled together to form the building.



15. The method of claim 12, wherein the panels are lockable to form a predetermined structure using a cam-based component connector system that provides for mating, dual-track alignment and locking of the modular panels with each other along their adjoining seams.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

The present invention claims priority from U.S. provisional patent application 61/063,191 filed Feb 2, 2008, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to modular building systems and methods, and more particularly, to modular building systems and methods for containerized shipment thereof.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Modular buildings and components used in making them are known in the art. By way of example, prefabricated housing components, including wall panels are known. However, energy losses most commonly occur in the seam or joint regions of structures, including prefabricated buildings and modular structural components. Additionally, while prefabricated panels and other components are known in the art, they are not packaged or provided for quick and easy assembly to form a predetermined completed structure that also provides for an energy efficient structure that is also stable and reliable, i.e., able to withstand the natural elements including storm conditions.

One example of commercially available modular building components is found at http://aguentium.com/housing.htm.

None of the prior art addresses the longstanding need for stable, energy efficient modular building structures, including kits for installing same, in particular having structurally locked wall panel components that are aligned with a mating double rail track edge system. Thus there remains a need for energy efficient and stable modular building systems and methods for installing them, including providing containerized packaging to facilitate shipment, assembly and installation of the building.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides modular building systems and methods for shipment and installation of them.

One aspect of the present invention is to provide systems and methods for a modular building that is self-contained within a standard shipping container, wherein the pre-fabricated panel wall components are easily assembled to form a predetermined structure using a cam-based component connector system that provides for mating, dual-track alignment and locking of the modular panels with each other along their adjoining seams. Another aspect of the present invention is to provide a modular building system for a portable, storable complete building kit wherein the kit is completely optimally provided within a standard shipping container. Still another aspect of the present invention is to provide a modular building system with prefabricated composite wall panels that include conduits provided within the panels. Methods for installation of the modular building system are also considered aspects of the present invention. These and other aspects of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art after a reading of the following description of the preferred embodiment when considered with the drawings, as they support the claimed invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1-8 illustrate various views of the invention.

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a container for housing the modular building system according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of stacked contents of the kit for modular building structures of the present invention, configured to fit within the container shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 shows a loaded container of FIG. 1 with the components of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 illustrates a perspective view of a partially assembled modular building structure.

FIG. 5 shows a perspective view of a completed modular building from the partially completed illustration of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 illustrates several related views; in FIG. 6A a top view of two edges of modular wall panels having mating double railing for alignment and locking mechanism; FIG. 6B illustrates an end perspective view illustrating the parallel spaced apart double track or railing system; FIG. 6C illustrates a side view and cut-away of joined panel edges with the interlocking cam-based locking mechanism. While the interlocking cam mechanism is desirable for providing additional securement at the joints between two panels, it is not a requirement for some level of stability.

FIG. 7 illustrates a top view of a corner wall panel modular component with seamless corner.

FIG. 8 illustrates several perspective views of the modular building components in various stages of installation.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following description, like reference characters designate like or corresponding parts throughout the several views. Also in the following description, it is to be understood that such terms as “forward,” “rearward,” “front,” “back,” “right,” “left,” “upwardly,” “downwardly,” and the like are words of convenience and are not to be construed as limiting terms.

The present invention provides systems and methods for a modular building that is self-contained within a standard shipping container, wherein the pre-fabricated panel wall components are easily assembled to form a predetermined structure using a cam-based component connector system. Another aspect of the present invention is to provide a modular building system for a portable, storable complete building kit wherein the kit is completely optimally provided within a standard shipping container. The present invention also provides a modular building system with prefabricated composite wall panels that include conduits provided within the panels; these conduits may optionally be pre-wired. Methods for installation of the modular building system include the steps of providing a prefabricated modular building kit having all components and instructions for assembly optimally disposed within a standard shipping container for portability and storage; removing the kit from the shipping container; assembling the modular housing by arranging and connecting the composite wall panels, which may include conduits for electrical and/or plumbing disposed within the interior section of the composite wall panels, including input/output openings for wiring, etc.

Referring now to the drawings in general, the illustrations are for the purpose of describing a preferred embodiment of the invention and are not intended to limit the invention thereto. As best seen in the figures, especially FIGS. 1-6, an illustration of a container for housing a modular building kit is shown; in FIGS. 7-8, a modular building materials are shown including interlocking pre-engineered and pre-insulated panels that are constructed and configured to be quickly attached together by juxtapositioning their respective edges to form the walls, roof, or floor of a structure.

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a container 10 for housing the modular building system according to one embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of stacked contents of the kit for modular building structures of the present invention, configured to fit within the container shown in FIG. 1; the contents of this illustration include furniture 1001, panel splines 1010, bedding & food prep supplies 1030, windows & doors 1040, exterior flashing material 1020, kitchen core module 1050, tools & fasteners 1060, bath core module 1070, power generator 1080, environmental equipment 1090, plumbing & electrical equipment 1100, additional supplies 1120, wall panels 1128, gable end panels 1130, roof panels 1140, and roof panel support beams 1150. FIG. 3 shows a loaded container 12 of FIG. 1 with the components of FIG. 2. FIG. 4 illustrates a perspective view of a partially assembled modular building structure 1180, including door component 28, wall panel edges 20, 22, wall panel face side 16, and back side 18, wall panel (generally referenced 14), joined edges or seam 24, roof panel 26. FIG. 5 shows a perspective view of a completed modular building from the partially completed illustration of FIG. 4 including a window unit 30. FIG. 6 illustrates several related views; in FIG. 6A a top view of two edges of modular wall panels having mating double railing 32 for alignment and locking mechanism 34 ; FIG. 6B illustrates an end perspective view illustrating the parallel spaced apart double track or railing system 33; FIG. 6C illustrates a side view and cut-away of joined panel edges with the interlocking cam-based locking mechanism (cam 36, locking arm 38, seam 40). FIG. 7 illustrates a top view of a corner wall panel modular component with seamless corner 42 with insulation 19 a face side 16 and back side 18 of the wall panel, and double rail mating alignment components 32, 33. FIG. 8 illustrates several perspective views of the modular building components in various stages of installation.

The structure size is predetermined before packaging, but ranges in size from small to very large buildings, by way of example and not limitation, such as an emergency shelter, a home or a command shelter or office. The size of the panels generally requires only two or three persons to manually maneuver the panels for complete structure erection. The material of both the interior and the exterior siding of the panels is selected based upon the needs of the customer and the environment, but in any case the panels are both insulated and portable. Preferably, the panels are super-insulated and portable to allow the builder to get under roof and into a comfortable space in a very short period of time.

In one embodiment of the present invention, items such as electrical junction boxes, conduit or radiant heating coils are preferably molded inside of the panels, constructed and configured in such a way on site as to add additional value to the structure. Beneficially, the structure is assembled quickly and may be pre-fitted with conduit (as delivered to the site in the self-contained kit, preferably in a shipping container), to allow for quick installation of a fully-equipped building, including electrical functionality. Doors and windows are also preferably delivered with and included in the building kit. Preferably, openings for the windows and doors are pre-framed in the panels in a manner that allows for rapid window and door installation on site, without additional time or materials required for framing and installation. Roof beam pockets are also preferably pre-set in the top of panels to facilitate the placement of rafter or ridge beams to allow for the support of the insulated roof panels.

In a preferred embodiment, the entire system is packed as a complete kit within a cargo container or standard shipping container as illustrated in FIG. 1. This optimized packaging for using the container facilitates the delivery and storage of multiple containers in a central location until such time as needed for rapid erection of a structure, for example in the case of an unexpected natural disaster. This building kit also preferably includes a complete tool kit to facilitate complete assembly of the structure; the building kit may also include items such as an electric generator, limited fuel for the generator, a renewable power source such as solar panels or wind turbines, water and basic non-perishable foodstuffs, thereby providing for a complete emergency shelter that can be occupied and used immediately upon delivery and installation, without requiring any separate tools, supplies, or equipment to be a fully-functioning facility or shelter. The container may also include cabinets, sinks, toilets, showers and even furniture for installation within the modular building to provide for immediate and also possibly long-term occupancy in the shelter. The cargo container could then be used as a secondary structure for storage if left on the site.

Advantageously, the panels of the present invention are the most advanced structurally insulated building panel on the market today. For corner panels they may be provided all flat panels so that they will stack tighter. The present invention provides a modular building system for creating an energy-efficient structure including: a multiplicity of pre-fabricated panel wall components and roof components, each having a face side and a back side and four edges including a pair of spaced-apart parallel tracks that run the length of at least two opposite edges for aligning the edges together to form a seam, wherein the components further include locking components for securedly attaching the components together along the seams.

Also, methods for providing a modular building structure including the steps of: providing a containerized kit wherein the kit is sized and configured to be enclosed by a housing and includes therewithin a modular building system further comprising a predetermined number of modular wall components, a roof system, and at least one door; providing instructions for assembling the modular building system for forming a complete building unit, including aligning the modular wall components along their opposite edges via a double mating spaced apart rail that extends along the length of the wall to provide an energy efficient seam when wall components are joined.

One application for the present invention includes a structure or building for a command or support center after an emergency to be erected on a flat surface. Other applications include but are not limited to medical center, school or residential structures.

In preferred embodiments of the kits for modular buildings, preferably included with the modular panel components for assembling to form a basic structure are the following:

Panels in a pre-configured kit including window panels, door panels, corner panels, beam pocket panels and window(s) pre-set into at least one panel; at least one door frame fitted to allow final site placement quickly and easily; at least one ventilation fan pre-installed in panel; and wherein the panels have at least some finishing on the face side that would be externally or outwardly facing upon assembly and installation for the building structure, by way of example and not limitation the face side finish includes a pre-finished exterior siding such as commercially offered by Hardi Panel or LP SmartSide; a plurality of structural members for supporting roof structure including a modular box beam with joints secured by pins; at least one composite sill plate and secondary base plate with flashing for foundation; tools required for structure assembly including panel cam-locks, sealant foam, foam applicators, etc.; instructions, plans, and figures illustrating assembly in at least one language or even multiple language(s) as required, preferably including figures showing step-wise assembly and installation, as well as an indication or listing of all the parts and components within the kit and how they relate to each other; rigid flashing for the top roof ridge (at the junction of the two different panel slopes), roof lining material, finished roofing material, modular electrical baseboard outlet kit; communications system or equipment (such as by way of example and not limitation, a communication system for satellite-based telecommunication of voice and/or data); scaffolding if wall panels were greater than about 8 ft. in height; Universal Power Supplies & filter (UPS) for sensitive electronic equipment; solar panels (PV or solar-thermal) for attachment or integration with select panels, preferably roof panels; FRP laminated panel interior (like for medical or school application); at least one bathroom module including sink and toilet, and preferably a shower unit.

Additionally, it is preferred to have equipment and/or appliances included with the kit to provide a fully functioning building structure with energy, heat and/or cooling, testing equipment, refrigeration, cleaning equipment, portable beds and/or bedding (in particular in the case of a medical structure application), at least one generator with fuel storage tanks safe for long term storage (LP, LNG, etc.), a potable water supply or container therefor (such as for about 250 gal of water), meals ready to eat (MRE) wherein the quantity depends upon user specification, cooking equipment, such as portable camping-type ovens; matches or other flame source, a ladder, solar oven or solar-powered cooking or heating equipment; water purification system for point-of-use water treatment; water collection system (including but not limited to rain collection), portable battery-powered and/or rechargeable lighting, computers and electronic equipment, etc.

Other optional supplemental items for inclusion in the kit may selectively include the following: basic modular furniture (tables, chairs, filing cabinets, locked storage cabinets, etc.), First Aid Kits; portable transportation for personal use, such as all-terrain vehicles, motorized or manual, or bicycles (mountain bikes); surveillance equipment.

Optional Extras may further include: additional consumable supplies, including but not limited to food, water, medical supplies, batteries, water filters or point-of-use purification equipment; medication or first aid supplies; bedding and clothing; protective gear specific to predetermined location, by way of example and not limitation, gas masks, impermeable gloves, hat, clothing, to protect from contamination or toxic agents; rope, chainsaws, other tools.

Also, supplemental or specific power supply alternatives may be provided, including by way of example and not limitation, a wind power generator, water power generator, solar power generating equipment, etc.

One application of the kits for modular buildings according to the present invention is to provide emergency shelter kits that would be deliverable to a site or location in advance of or following an emergency situation, such as weather catastrophe, illness outbreak, or may also be provided in advance of construction of larger buildings. While the present invention modular buildings formed from the kits and components described herein are suitable for long-term use, they may also be used for temporary buildings or for limited time specific use buildings. As such, the containers housing the kits for modular buildings preferably are rated and/or have a “storage life” where some items like tool batteries, MREs, water, and other items having some predetermined shelf life, would have to be replenished after a predetermined time, by way of example about 5 years. Replenishment kits may optionally be packaged for inclusion within the kit or separately and independently ordered periodically based on the number of containers originally ordered and not yet used.

Certain modifications and improvements will occur to those skilled in the art upon a reading of the foregoing description. The above mentioned examples are provided to serve the purpose of clarifying the aspects of the invention and it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that they do not serve to limit the scope of the invention. All modifications and improvements have been deleted herein for the sake of conciseness and readability but are properly within the scope of the present invention.