US20080178551A1 - Flexible modular building framework - Google Patents

Flexible modular building framework Download PDF

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US20080178551A1
US20080178551A1 US12/019,992 US1999208A US2008178551A1 US 20080178551 A1 US20080178551 A1 US 20080178551A1 US 1999208 A US1999208 A US 1999208A US 2008178551 A1 US2008178551 A1 US 2008178551A1
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building frame
columns
column
beams
beam
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Abandoned
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US12/019,992
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William H. Porter
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PORTER WILLIAM H
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Porter William H
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Priority to US12/019,992 priority patent/US20080178551A1/en
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    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04BGENERAL BUILDING CONSTRUCTIONS; WALLS, e.g. PARTITIONS; ROOFS; FLOORS; CEILINGS; INSULATION OR OTHER PROTECTION OF BUILDINGS
    • E04B1/00Constructions in general; Structures which are not restricted either to walls, e.g. partitions, or floors or ceilings or roofs
    • E04B1/18Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons
    • E04B1/24Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons the supporting parts consisting of metal
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04BGENERAL BUILDING CONSTRUCTIONS; WALLS, e.g. PARTITIONS; ROOFS; FLOORS; CEILINGS; INSULATION OR OTHER PROTECTION OF BUILDINGS
    • E04B1/00Constructions in general; Structures which are not restricted either to walls, e.g. partitions, or floors or ceilings or roofs
    • E04B1/18Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons
    • E04B1/26Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons the supporting parts consisting of wood
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04BGENERAL BUILDING CONSTRUCTIONS; WALLS, e.g. PARTITIONS; ROOFS; FLOORS; CEILINGS; INSULATION OR OTHER PROTECTION OF BUILDINGS
    • E04B1/00Constructions in general; Structures which are not restricted either to walls, e.g. partitions, or floors or ceilings or roofs
    • E04B1/18Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons
    • E04B1/26Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons the supporting parts consisting of wood
    • E04B1/2604Connections specially adapted therefor
    • E04B1/2608Connectors made from folded sheet metal
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04BGENERAL BUILDING CONSTRUCTIONS; WALLS, e.g. PARTITIONS; ROOFS; FLOORS; CEILINGS; INSULATION OR OTHER PROTECTION OF BUILDINGS
    • E04B1/00Constructions in general; Structures which are not restricted either to walls, e.g. partitions, or floors or ceilings or roofs
    • E04B1/18Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons
    • E04B1/24Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons the supporting parts consisting of metal
    • E04B1/2403Connection details of the elongated load-supporting parts
    • E04B2001/2415Brackets, gussets, joining plates
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04BGENERAL BUILDING CONSTRUCTIONS; WALLS, e.g. PARTITIONS; ROOFS; FLOORS; CEILINGS; INSULATION OR OTHER PROTECTION OF BUILDINGS
    • E04B1/00Constructions in general; Structures which are not restricted either to walls, e.g. partitions, or floors or ceilings or roofs
    • E04B1/18Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons
    • E04B1/24Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons the supporting parts consisting of metal
    • E04B1/2403Connection details of the elongated load-supporting parts
    • E04B2001/2451Connections between closed section profiles
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04BGENERAL BUILDING CONSTRUCTIONS; WALLS, e.g. PARTITIONS; ROOFS; FLOORS; CEILINGS; INSULATION OR OTHER PROTECTION OF BUILDINGS
    • E04B1/00Constructions in general; Structures which are not restricted either to walls, e.g. partitions, or floors or ceilings or roofs
    • E04B1/18Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons
    • E04B1/24Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons the supporting parts consisting of metal
    • E04B1/2403Connection details of the elongated load-supporting parts
    • E04B2001/246Post to post connections
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04BGENERAL BUILDING CONSTRUCTIONS; WALLS, e.g. PARTITIONS; ROOFS; FLOORS; CEILINGS; INSULATION OR OTHER PROTECTION OF BUILDINGS
    • E04B1/00Constructions in general; Structures which are not restricted either to walls, e.g. partitions, or floors or ceilings or roofs
    • E04B1/18Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons
    • E04B1/24Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons the supporting parts consisting of metal
    • E04B2001/2466Details of the elongated load-supporting parts
    • E04B2001/2469Profile with an array of connection holes
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04BGENERAL BUILDING CONSTRUCTIONS; WALLS, e.g. PARTITIONS; ROOFS; FLOORS; CEILINGS; INSULATION OR OTHER PROTECTION OF BUILDINGS
    • E04B1/00Constructions in general; Structures which are not restricted either to walls, e.g. partitions, or floors or ceilings or roofs
    • E04B1/18Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons
    • E04B1/26Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons the supporting parts consisting of wood
    • E04B1/2604Connections specially adapted therefor
    • E04B2001/2652Details of nailing, screwing, or bolting
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04BGENERAL BUILDING CONSTRUCTIONS; WALLS, e.g. PARTITIONS; ROOFS; FLOORS; CEILINGS; INSULATION OR OTHER PROTECTION OF BUILDINGS
    • E04B1/00Constructions in general; Structures which are not restricted either to walls, e.g. partitions, or floors or ceilings or roofs
    • E04B1/18Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons
    • E04B1/26Structures comprising elongated load-supporting parts, e.g. columns, girders, skeletons the supporting parts consisting of wood
    • E04B2001/2696Shear bracing

Abstract

A building framework includes metal columns (e.g., tubular or I-beam), wood-product beams, and bracket connectors for joining the beams to the columns to form a building joint of sufficient strength and durability for buildings suitable for human occupation. First mechanical fasteners (such as bolts and nuts) secure a selected connector to the column, and second mechanical fasteners (such as lag bolts) secure a selected beam to the connector. The columns include double rows of holes. A plurality of different connectors with differently angled flanges are provided, such that beams can be connected at a wide variety of different angles. Further, the system allows columns and/or beams to be cut at the construction site, or at a building supply company. Thus, basic building components can be inventoried in a manner not previously possible, yet the system supports a wide variety of different building frames for on-site customization and adaptability.

Description

  • This application claims benefit under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of provisional application Ser. No. 60/887,461, filed Jan. 31, 2007, entitled FLEXIBLE MODULAR BUILDING FRAMEWORK, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.
  • BACKGROUND
  • The present invention relates to a building framework made from columns, beams, and bracket connectors, where the components are fastened together in a manner allowing flexible, low-cost, on-site adaptability when constructing a building. Further, the present invention relates to a building framework made from columns, beams, and bracket connectors, where the columns and beams are basic components that can be stocked and cut to length at a supply company or at a construction site, and where the bracket connectors can be selected to allow assembly for customized buildings suitable for human occupancy.
  • Buildings have been made of block and wood (sometimes called “bricks and sticks”) for years. Part of the attraction of these building materials is their flexibility of use and adaptability. However, different architectural designs require skilled workers and specialized tools for proper installation and to achieve an attractive look. This results in considerable on-site construction cost and time due to the need for skilled labor. A system for building frames is desired that is flexible enough to allow customization, yet that simplifies construction, requires fewer skilled tradesmen for construction, and that takes maximum advantage of mass production of basic components. Further, a building system is desired that allows lower-skilled construction workers (e.g., the homeowner himself) to make adaptations at the construction site. Still further, a building system is desired that allows fixing, retrofitting, refurbishing, and/or expansion of a building without major work to enable connection to an existing building. Also, a building system is desired that allows building supply companies to inventory a more basic set of components . . . instead of having to inventory a large number of different parts and pieces for various building designs.
  • As noted above, constructing building frames using metal structural members, such as tubes, I-beams, and angle iron, have been around for some time. Most all junctures for metal building beams require a welded piece (or pieces) to make the juncture. The traditional way of cutting steel has been with a saw that cuts in one plane, and that starts cutting from a side or end location on the beam. After cutting, a plate with holes is welded to the end of the cut tube for attachment to another beam, such as with threaded fasteners. Notably the plate with holes must be accurately located on the associated beam, and also the welding must be high-quality, since it is important that the assembled/connected beam arrangement not over-stress the welds or over-stress the junctions. This is necessary to avoid stress fractures around the welds and junction failures over time, given normal cyclical loading and environmental stress (i.e., wind, etc.) on building structures. Also, it is noted that welding is a secondary operation that is expensive, time-consuming, manually-intensive, and that requires significant quality assurance to insure that quality long-lasting welds are made. It is noted that welded metal beams are not easily adapted, but instead must be accurately made to specification, which results in every construction having custom-configured or nearly-custom-configured components. It is not cost-effective for most building supply companies to inventory a large number of these “configured components” since such a large number of them would be required.
  • It is essential in construction of frames for large buildings that the junctures have sufficient structure and stress distribution to meet building codes. This requires that the juncture components not just be loosely slip-fit together, but instead that each juncture be dimensionally accurate to form a tight stress-distributing fit. This is important so that assembled/connected beam arrangements don't concentrate stress on a juncture unacceptably . . . since welds and weld-adjacent beam walls can develop stress cracks and fail over time. In traditional welded steel beam constructions (e.g., plates welded to ends of columns), it is difficult to form highly accurate joints using traditional saw cutting operations, since saw blades tend to wander and wear, making them difficult to control with high accuracy. Other factors also affect inconsistent cutting, such as the need to repeatedly loosen and re-fixture a tubular beam for successive cuts. All of this leads to inconsistent cut locations and higher-than-desired tolerances, which in turn leads to additional concerns about juncture stresses and integrity of junctures in an assembled/connected beam arrangement of building structures.
  • SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION
  • The present invention focuses on flexible modular building structures with different junctures for use in a building frame, where the structures can be assembled by bolting beams together. Separate connectors are used to connect wood-product beams to tubular metal columns, with the connectors defining an angle of the beams to the columns. By the present invention, separate brackets do not need to be welded to the beam ends. The present invention saves considerable cost by reducing separate components, by reducing the use of skilled manpower, by reducing secondary operations, and by making for a more efficient assembly, including the ability to make adaptations at the construction site. Further, a more basic set of components can be inventoried at a common location, such as at a building supply company, thus making it more likely that necessary building supplies are available yet at a reasonable cost.
  • In one aspect of the present invention, a building framework includes metal columns preformed with holes, wood-product beams, and connectors for joining the beams to the columns to form a building joint of sufficient strength and durability for buildings suitable for humans. First fasteners (such as bolts and nuts) secure a selected connector to the column, and second fasteners (such as lag bolts) secure a selected beam to the connector at a desired orientation.
  • In another aspect of the present invention, a method of construction includes providing metal columns preformed with holes, wood-product beams, and a plurality of different connectors for joining the beams to the columns. The method further includes assembling the arrangement using selected connectors and mechanical fasteners.
  • In yet another aspect of the present invention, a method of construction includes providing metal columns preformed with holes, wood-product beams, and a plurality of different connectors for joining the beams to the columns. The method further includes cutting the columns and beams at the construction site, and assembling the arrangement using selected connectors and fasteners.
  • An object is to provide a more flexible building system with standardized components (including columns, beams, and connectors) that can be regionally stocked and field modified to create almost any shape of building. The frames can be built structurally in three dimensions by making simple cuts on wood-product beams (such as glulam timbers). Steel columns can be cut to length (i.e., sized) with a metal saw in the field. There is no need for field welding. The building frame simply bolts and screws together.
  • In a preferred form, this system uses structural insulated panels (SIPs) for forming walls. (See Porter U.S. Pat. No. 6,698,157 regarding SIPs.) The SIPs are also sized for ease of stocking, handling, and availability of pre-finished surfaces. SIPs are easily field-cut or may come precut from the factory with openings for windows and doors.
  • In one aspect, the present invention concerns a connector that structurally connects wood-product beams to metal columns. The connection is not just a hanger, but instead is structural and includes torsional and lineal loading strength.
  • In another aspect, the present invention concerns a steel column with a double row of holes for connection. The double row of holes allows for strategic placement and attachment of beams due to load direction, and/or proximity to a wall.
  • In another aspect, the present invention concerns a standardized column capable of accepting beams to make customized housing, yet without the complexity and complications of customized frame members. Instead, a more standardized basic set of components can be used to construct the building frame, yet allowing customization.
  • The combination of steel columns, wood-product beams (e.g., glulam beams), and a plurality of structural connectors is novel, and is believed to provide surprising and unexpected results in terms of supporting construction of a strong building frame suitable for human occupancy (i.e., meets building codes), yet allows customization and also allows use of basic components that can be cut to length at a local supply company or cut to length on site. This combination allows the building frame to include exposed wood trusses for optimal appearance and aesthetics. It also provides a versatile attachment to the steel tube columns. It also provides a plurality of bracket connectors that are structural, and that provide more than mere hanging of a truss. The bracket connectors screw up tight to opposing sides of the wood-product beams (e.g., glulam beams), even with width variation of the beams, thus allowing a tight connection for optimal torsional strength despite width variations of the beams.
  • The present invention includes extender connectors, allowing columns of predetermined length to be combined to reach longer dimensions. Thus, the present system supports multi-story constructions, including multi-floor housing and also towers. Further, the present system supports housing raised up and supported by stilts, such as for building in a flood plane.
  • The present invention combines with structural insulated panels (SIPs) to provide a building system that is well insulated, highly cost-effective in material cost and construction cost, and yet that is flexible to support customization and individualization of the housing structure.
  • These and other aspects, objects, and features of the present invention will be understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art upon studying the following specification, claims, and appended drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a building frame with a plurality of bents (six shown), each bent including two vertical metal columns, a truss made of wood product, and connectors for connecting each truss to the columns, and a floor beam.
  • FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing an enlarged fragmentary view of a foundation connection in FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a truss-to-column joint, with the wood products of the truss being exploded away; and
  • FIG. 4 is a horizontal cross section through the lower joint shown in FIG. 3 while
  • FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of FIG. 3.
  • FIG. 6 is a partially-exploded perspective view of another joint showing an aligned vertical extender column.
  • FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another joint, the joint using components similar to FIG. 6.
  • FIG. 8 is a cross section of a modified connector-to-wood-product fastener arrangement.
  • FIG. 9 is a perspective view of another joint, the joint using components similar to FIG. 6 but adding a beam supported at a 45 degree angle to the column, and FIG. 9A is a perspective view illustrating the bracket connector extending at the 45 degree angle.
  • FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a second building frame with similar columns, but using trusses incorporating a non-linear lower truss member and utilizing extender columns.
  • FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the building frame of FIG. 10 but with roof panels and side panels attached.
  • FIG. 12 is a top view of a column with attached beams extending in six different directions from the column, including four beams extending at 90 degrees to the column's four faces, and two beams extending from corners of the column at 45 degrees.
  • FIG. 13 is a side view of five different bracket connectors for supporting beams at different angles to a column, including connectors for a 2×6 horizontal beam, for a 2×10 horizontal beam, for a 2×6 angled beam on a 4-12 roof pitch, for a 2×10 angled beam on a 4-12 roof pitch, and a 2×6 angled beam on a 12-12 roof pitch.
  • FIG. 14 is a perspective view of different columns configured for use with the present building system, and FIG. 14A illustrates cutting a column (or beam) to length.
  • FIG. 15 is a flow diagram of a method of construction incorporating the columns, beams, and connectors of the present arrangement.
  • FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a hip roof building using the above illustrated joint.
  • FIGS. 17-18 are perspective views of multi-story towers using the above illustrated joints.
  • FIGS. 19-23 are front views of different building bents, FIG. 23 showing the sophistication and complexity that can be achieved by using the present basic components.
  • FIG. 24 is a front view of a home construction including the present building components.
  • FIG. 25 is an exploded perspective view of a truss-to-column-to-foundation assembly.
  • FIG. 26 is an exploded perspective view of a truss-to-column connection similar to but modified from that of FIG. 25.
  • FIG. 27 is an exploded perspective view of a truss-to-column connection similar to but modified from that of FIG. 25, and further of a column extender arrangement.
  • FIG. 28 is a horizontal cross section through an assembly of FIG. 27.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • A building frame 150 (FIGS. 1-2) includes a plurality of four-sided tubular metal columns 151 with two rows of spaced-apart pre-formed holes 152 (laser cut or drilled) on each side; a plurality of wood-product beams 153-157 (such as glulam, cut timber, or other material made using a wood component) secured together with plates 158-161 to form a truss; and bracket connectors (162-163) bolted to a selected area on the columns 151 and bolted to an end of the wood-product beams 153-154 for securing the truss to a top of two columns 151. The components 151-163 that lie in a single plane form a “bent” 165. One or more tubular metal beams 164 (or wood-product beams) can be connected between the columns 151, such as for forming a floor or ceiling support structure.
  • In the building illustrated in FIG. 1, six bents 165 are spaced apart and are connected by horizontal beams 166 and 167 (illustrated as wood-product beams, but could be steel tubes), with beams 166 forming part of a floor support and beams 167 forming “top plates.” The result is an elongated pentagon-shaped building structure with flat sides, flat ends, and an angled peaked roof. The illustrated horizontal beams 166 and 167 are connected by bracket connectors and are illustrated as being wood-product beams, but it is contemplated that metal horizontal beams could also be used. Stabilizers such as metal cross brace 168 (tubular or angle beam, depending on building requirements) and/or corner braces 169 can be diagonally attached to bents 165 and beams 166, 167 and truss members as desired for torsional building strength.
  • It will be understood by a person of ordinary skill, upon reading the discussion above and below, that by selecting different connectors, trusses with different pitches can be secured to the columns to form a wide variety of different building frames. Further, by cutting the metal columns to length or by adding extender columns, the columns can be “adjusted” on-site to allow the building to fit any foundation and ground layout. Also, since the metal columns can be cut to length and also extended by using extender columns 170 and extender bracketry 171, a wide variety of “building adjustments” can be made at the construction site, which is particularly advantageous when building in a remote area or when access to skilled tradesmen is limited. Further, a building supply company (or a building site itself) can inventory standardized lengths while still supporting the construction of many different building designs.
  • The illustrated column 151 (FIG. 2) includes two vertical rows of holes 152 on all four of its sides. It is contemplated that the holes 152 can be drilled, laser-cut, machined, or otherwise formed in the column, as required by the thickness and strength of the material used to form the beam. It is also contemplated that the location of the holes 152 can be pre-marked and drilled at the construction site or at the building supply company, if desired. The holes 152 enable the columns 151 to accept a wide variety of brackets, connector plates, and braces. The illustrated column 151 includes continuous rows of holes 152 running its full length on all four sides. Nonetheless, it is contemplated that the holes 152 could instead be formed only at predetermined locations where needed. (See FIG. 14.)
  • The illustrated column 151 also includes access openings 173 (FIG. 3) on at least one side to provide access to an interior of the column 151, such as for torquing (or holding) a nut or bolt during attachment. The access openings 173 are located so as to minimize loss of structural integrity of the column 151. The columns 151 can be made of any material having a suitable thickness and suitable properties, and further the cross-sectional size of the columns 151 can be any dimension required. The illustrated beam is made of a structural steel sheet, and further is made to standard beam sizes (e.g., 2×4, 2×6, 2×8, 4×4, 4×6) and lengths.
  • The column 151 can be secured to a foundation in various ways. The illustrated column 151 in FIG. 2 is secured by L-shaped connectors 174 to foundation 175. A bolt 175′ extends upwardly from the foundation 175 and is secured by a nut 176 to the bottom flange 177 of the connector 174. Additional bolts 178 extend through holes in the up flange 179 of the connector 174, and are secured by nuts (not shown). The bolts 178 and/or nuts can include washers if necessary for increased distribution of stress at the connection. It is contemplated that the columns can also be secure by embedding a lower portion in a poured foundation, and in other ways known in the art of building construction.
  • The illustrated beams 153-157 (FIG. 1) are glulams, which combine strength and beauty of wood product. Thus, the truss formed thereby can be left exposed to form an attractive vaulted ceiling in a room. (For example, see the ceiling forming lower portion of the truss in FIG. 10.) It is contemplated that the beams 153-157 (FIG. 1) can be made from saw-cut wood, lumber, and any other similar product, such as beams made of bonded wood particles and wood-plastic products having similar properties. The term “wood product” is used hereafter to refer to all of the above, including glulam, cut lumber, and any other product using a wood component. The connector plates 158-161 used in the trusses and similar connection devices are generally known in the art, such that a detailed discussion is not required herein for an understanding of the present invention.
  • The connector 162 (FIGS. 3-4) includes a pair of opposing bent sheet metal brackets 182 and 182′, the bracket 182′ being a mirror image of the other bracket 182. The bracket 182 includes a first flange 183 with holes 184 and a second flange 185 with holes 186. The second flange 185 extends at an upward angle to receive the end of the beam 154, as discussed below. It is contemplated that the bracket connectors 162 (and 162′ and the other metal parts disclosed herein) can include holes formed by laser cutting, plasma arc, water jet, and/or stamping processes, depending on the material being formed.
  • A plate 187 with holes 188 matching the pattern of holes 184 is adapted to fit into the cavity of column 151. A second plate 190 includes tack-welded-in-place bolts 191 (i.e., “fasteners”) arranged to fit through holes 184 and 188 and through selected holes 152 in a column 151. Washers and nuts 192 (i.e., “fasteners”) can be threaded onto the threaded shaft of the bolts 191 (via access through access opening 173) to secure the brackets 182 and 182′ to the column 151. The end of beam 154 is then positioned between the brackets 182 and 182′, and lag bolts 193 (i.e., “fasteners”) are extended through the holes 186 into the beam 154. The brackets 182 and 182′ combine to form a connector 162 with the flanges 183 extending at a desired (upward) angle to define a pocket for receiving the end of the beam 154. The pocket formed by the brackets 182 and 182′ is aligned with a longitudinal direction of the beam 154 for optimal structural support. Further, the holes 184 are slightly oversized or slotted to allow the bracket connectors 162 and 162′ to be clamped tight against sides of the beam 154. Thus, the brackets 182-182′ can be moved toward each other, so that the flanges 183 closely engage the side surfaces of the beam 154, which is required for optimal stress distribution and joint strength necessary in buildings to meet building codes for human-occupied buildings. It is contemplated that a variety of different fasteners can be used to secure the wood-product components to the connectors, including screws, threaded bolts and nuts, lag bolts, nails, pins, shear collars, and other means.
  • The connector 163 (FIGS. 3-4) also includes a pair of opposing bent sheet metal brackets 194 and 194′, the bracket 194′ being a mirror image of the other. The bracket 163 includes a first flange 195 with holes similar to flange 183 for connection to the column 151, and further includes a second flange 197 with holes similar to flange 185, except that flange 197 extends at a different horizontal angle to receive the end of beam 153. In FIG. 1, the pocket defined between flanges 197 extends horizontally, for supporting the beam 153 horizontally. Notably, by selecting a different bracket connector, the cross beam (153) can be supported at an angle. (See FIG. 10.)
  • By using the present building system, a plurality of entire bents 165 (FIG. 1) can be construction on a flat area of land at the construction site, and then erected. Beams 166 and 167 (see FIG. 12) can be used to interconnect the columns 151 of adjacent bents 165. Where the columns 151 or beams 153-157, 166-167 need to be shortened, they can be cut at the construction site or at the building supply company prior to shipment.
  • Columns 151 can be extended by the extender bracketry 171 (FIG. 6). This allows the entire building frame to be raised by putting the frame on “stilts” (see FIG. 10). The extender 170 (FIG. 6) is basically another column 151 positioned in alignment with a first column 151. The extender bracketry 171 includes four extender plates 200 each with holes 201 similar to plate 187 (FIG. 31). Four such plates 200 can be secured in place with bolts and nuts, forming an elongated column with a combined length of columns 151 and 170. The bolts can be pre-tack-welded in place if desired. Notably, the torsional and structural strength around the joint formed at the abutting ends of the columns 151 and 170 is approximately equal to or greater than the torsional and structural strength of a remaining portion of the columns 151 and 170 due to the support received from the plates 200. The illustrated plates 200 include eight holes 201, but of course the plates can be made longer and include more holes (or bolts) if desired.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates a modified connector 210 allowing a horizontal beam, such as a wood product beam 166A, to be secured to a side of the column 151, such as for connecting adjacent bents 165. The connector 210 is made from sheet metal and includes a side flange 211 with holes 212, a perpendicular flange 213 with holes 214 matching the holes 152 on the column 151, and a second perpendicular flange 215 for added strength. It is contemplated that the holes 214 (and other holes) can be made oversized or slotted to allow adjustment of the connector 210, so that the connector parts fit tight against opposing sides of the beam 166. A plate 216 with tack-welded bolts 217 is provided. The bolts 217 are arranged to extend through the holes 212 and through selected holes 152, and are bolted in place using internal nuts threaded onto the shafts of the bolts 217. The flanges 211, 213, and 215 form a pocket for receiving an end of the wood-product beam 166A. The beam 166A is secured by lag bolts 218 (or by nails or other means) to the connector 210, thus forming a secure and stable joint.
  • If desired, the structure around the lag bolts 218 can be modified for increased stress distribution and strength. For example, one way is to form a pocket 220 (FIG. 8) in the wood-product beam 166A. A stress distributing ring 221 is positioned in the pocket 220. The bolt 218 includes a washer 222 that clamps against the ring 221 in a manner distributing forces toward the edges 223 of the ring, thus leading to a stronger more torsion-resistant joint.
  • It is contemplated that a variety of different connectors can be constructed, including connectors for making a hip roof or for making a polygonal-shaped building. For example, connector 225 (FIG. 9) includes a pair of brackets 226 and 226′ (mirror images of each other) that are configured to engage a column 151 at a 45 degree angle (as viewed in a top view). Specifically, bracket 226 includes first flanges 227 with holes that align with holes 152 on one side of the column 151, and includes a flange 228 that extends upwardly (at whatever angle desired) and inwardly from the corner of the column 151. The flange 228 includes holes for receiving lag bolts 229. Bracket 226′ includes similar structure, and combines with the bracket 226 to form a pocket for receiving an end of a wood-product truss beam 230. The beam 230 extends at an angle such that it intersects other similar beams (230) coming off of columns (151) positioned in a polygonal arrangement, with the upper inner ends of the beams 230 joining together at a central peak location 231. Thus, a variety of different polygonal buildings 150B (FIG. 16) and/or buildings with hip roofs can be constructed, as discussed below.
  • FIG. 10 illustrates a second building frame 150A using similar components as building frame 150, but the trusses are made using non-aligned non-horizontal lower beams 153A and 153A′ (instead of a single horizontal beam 153, FIG. 1).
  • FIG. 11 illustrates the building frame 150A with the roof panels 203 and side wall panels 204 attached. It is contemplated that various panels 202 and 203 can be used. In a preferred form, the panels 203 and 204 are structural insulated panels (“SIPs”), such as a panel including an expanded foam core and strong skin for strength and insulative qualities. Windows, doors and other openings are cut (or pre-cut) into the panels and preassembled door and window components are secured therein. For a further description of SIPs, see Porter U.S. Pat. No. 6,698,157, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein in their entirety for their teachings. In FIG. 11, the SIPs are attached to the wood beams and wood top plates of the building frame by long screws. The SIPs are attached to the metal columns using screws, fasteners and clamps suitable for same.
  • A plurality of different bracket connectors and columns can be provided. For example, FIG. 13 illustrates a plurality of different bracket connectors, including two bracket connectors 194′ and 194″ for supporting 6 inch and 10 inch ceiling beams, respectively, and including two bracket connectors 182 and 182′ for supporting 6 inch and 10 inch roof beams at a 4-12 roof pitch, and including another bracket connector 182″ for supporting a 6 inch roof beam at a 45 degree roof pitch. Notably, bracket connectors can be made to support beams at any desired angle, thus allowing a roof to be constructed at any desired pitch. Further, this supports cross-braces extending at any desired angle. FIG. 14 illustrates a plurality of different columns, including a standard “shotgun” building column 151, and further a standard building elevated column 151′, a standard building column 151″ without a continuous double row of preformed holes, and a custom column 151′″. It is contemplated that the holes 152 can be premarked (such as with a dimple or other mark) and drilled at the building supply location or at the construction site. However, it is important that the hole location be accurate and formed without cracks or imperfections that might lead to frame defects affecting durability and stress distribution in assembled building frames.
  • FIG. 15 is a flow chart illustrating a method of construction. FIG. 15 includes steps of construction comprising steps of providing a plurality of tubular metal columns with preformed holes; providing a plurality of wood-product beams; selecting a connector from a plurality of connectors with first and second surfaces; selectively positioning the first surface of the selected connector matably against a selected area on one of the columns and selectively positioning the second surface matably against an end of a selected one of the wood-product beams; securing the selected connector to the selected area; and securing the selected connector to the end of the selected beam. The method further includes cutting one or more selected column to a desired length, and cutting one or more selected beams to a desired length, including performing the cutting at a regional location and/or at a construction site. The method further includes mechanically attaching the connectors to columns at the construction site, and also mechanically attaching the connectors to wood-product beams at the construction site, using standard fasteners such as threaded bolts, nuts, and lag screws.
  • The above concepts provide a building system that is particularly flexible, adaptable on-site, and yet that allows standardized basic components to be inventoried in a way not previously possible. For example, a variety of different polygonal buildings 150B (FIG. 16) and/or buildings with hip roofs can be constructed. Notably, the illustrated building has a square layout, but it is contemplated that the building could be any geometric shape, including pentagon, hexagon, octagon, and etc shapes.
  • Further, by using the extender bracketry 171 (FIG. 6), a multi-story building frame 150C (FIG. 17) can be erected in a raised condition (i.e., on “stilts” at the bottom location 235). The illustrated building frame 150C has two stories 236 and 237, but it is contemplated that additional stories can be added even though the original columns 151 are not long enough to reach from the ground to a top floor (by using extender columns and connectors). Also, towers 150C′ (FIG. 18) can be constructed, where a height of the building frame is considerable. For example, the tower building frame 150C could be extended to several stories, and ladders or steps could be attached from the ground to the top. This structure would be well suited for observation towers, particularly where construction is required in remote areas.
  • From the above concepts, it will be clear to a person of ordinary skill in this art that a variety of different bents can be constructed, simply by providing different sets of connectors, beams, and columns . . . yet while still maintaining a manageable size of inventory of basic components. For example, FIG. 199 illustrates a bent 150D using two different length columns 151, a single wood-product beam 154, and appropriate connectors 162 at each end for connecting the beam 154 to the columns 151 at a selected pitch. (Notably, the connectors 162 are identical, and only need to be inverted relative to each other.) FIG. 20 illustrates a bent 150E having a more traditional pentagon shape, and which uses equal length columns 151 and a truss of wood-product beams 153-157 (similar to that shown in FIG. 1). FIG. 21 illustrates a bent 150F similar to FIG. 20, but having a truss forming a vaulted or peaked ceiling (see location 258F) inside the building structure (similar to that shown in FIG. 10). FIG. 22 illustrates a bent 150G similar to FIG. 20 but with only two beams 154 and 155 forming the roof. Bent 150G does not include a complex truss (i.e., it lacks the supportive truss members 153, 156-157), and instead uses a cross beam 153 located below a top of the columns 151. FIG. 23 illustrates a building frame similar to FIG. 22, but includes a floor-forming structural beam 164 and further includes corner bracing 169. Still further, a deck 170 is added to the building frame. FIG. 23 illustrates the complexity and customization allowed by the present building system, but which still can be supported by the same basic components. The building of FIG. 23 can be constructed using standardized components, selectively cut on-site or at a building supply company.
  • Notably, in the above building frames, the wood-product beams can be left visible, thus providing an attractive appearance to the building while still allowing the building frame to take advantage of a strength of the beams. The wood-product beams can be cut on-site, or cut at a building supply company, allowing flexibility in a way not previously found in building materials for building frames.
  • The present system can be used with any type wood-product beams. The most common glulam beams are 3″×5″ wide Southern Yellow Pine beams. Depth varies from 6⅞″ to 26⅛″ in 1⅜″ increments. In a preferred form, the column hole spacing is double the 1⅜″ increment at 2¾″ vertically. It is contemplated that 3 inch wide glulam beams are used primarily for the top plates 166, which are the beams running horizontally at a top of the columns. 5 inch glulam beams are used for floor beams and roof beams. Trusses include multiple beams, such as by using 5 inch wide stock. Structural engineers can design standard and custom truss designs that will work well with the present system.
  • The present system is called the “ADAPT” system, because of its great ability to adapt to building situations and construction needs. The square columns with multiple holes easily accommodate buildings of various heights. The columns allow offshoots in four directions (i.e., directions perpendicular to sides of the column) as well as in other angles (i.e., directions extending from corners of the column). Wood-product beams can be easily cut to length to accommodate span requirements. Column connectors are supplied in a wide variety of angles to accommodate various roof pitches and truss configurations.
  • By attaching structural insulated panels (SIPs) to exterior sides of the building frames, a substantially complete and well insulated building can be quickly and easily constructed. This leads to a quicker construction process, and also a process that allow all associated tradespersons and subcontractors to begin work on interior walls, electrical systems, plumbing, drywall, and finish carpentry sooner. An object is to provide a more flexible building system with standardized components (including columns, beams, and connectors) can be regionally stocked and field modified to create almost any shape of building. The frames can be built structurally in three dimensions by making simple cuts on wood product beams (such as glulam timbers). Steel columns can be cut to length (i.e., sized) with a metal saw in the field. There is no need for field welding. The building frame simply bolts and screws together.
  • In a preferred form, this system uses structural insulated panels (SIPs) for forming walls. (See Porter U.S. Pat. No. 6,698,157 regarding SIPs.) The SIPs are also sized for ease of stocking, handling, and availability of pre-finished surfaces. SIPs are easily field-cut or may come precut from the factory with openings for windows and doors.
  • A significant aspect of the present concept is that the bracket connectors structurally connect wood product beams to the metal columns. The connection is not just a hanger, but instead is structural and includes torsional and lineal loading strength.
  • Another significant aspect are the steel tubular columns with a double row of holes for connection. The double row of holes allow for strategic placement and attachment of beams due to load direction, and/or proximity to a wall.
  • Another significant aspect concerns the use of standardized columns capable of accepting beams to make customized housing, yet without the complexity and complications of customized frame members. Instead, a more standardized basic set of components can be used to construct the building frame, yet allowing customization.
  • The combination of tube steel columns, wood-product beams (e.g., glulam beams), and a plurality of structural connectors is novel, and is believed to provide surprising and unexpected results in terms of supporting construction of a strong building frame suitable for human occupancy (i.e., meets building codes), yet allows customization and also allows use of basic components that can be cut to length at a local supply company or cut to length on site. This combination allows the building frame to include exposed wood trusses for optimal appearance and aesthetics. It also provides a versatile attachment to the steel tube columns. It also provides a plurality of bracket connectors that are structural, and that provide more than mere hanging of a truss. The bracket connectors screw up tight to opposing sides of the wood product beams (e.g., glulam beams), even with width variation of the beams, thus allowing a tight connection for optimal torsional strength despite width variations of the beams.
  • Another significant aspect are the extender connectors, which allow columns of predetermined length to be combined to reach longer dimensions. Thus, the present system supports multi-story constructions, including multi-floor housing and also towers. Further, the present system supports housing raised up and supported by stilts, such as for building in a floor plane.
  • As noted above, the present invention combines particularly well with structural insulated panels (SIPs) to provide a building system that is well insulated, highly cost-effective in material cost and construction cost, and yet that is flexible to support customization and individualization of the housing structure.
  • Additional modified building constructions using modified components are shown below, with similar and identical components and features identified using the same identification numbers but with the addition of letters “H,” “J,” “K,” etc. This is done to reduce redundant discussion, and to help provide an understanding of the present innovative concepts.
  • I have discovered that a modified building frame 150H (FIG. 25) similar to building frame 150 (FIGS. 1-2) can be constructed using I-beam columns instead of (or in combination with) tubular columns. The modified frame includes a plurality of I-beam shaped metal (steel) columns 151H with two rows of spaced-apart pre-formed holes 152H (laser cut or drilled) on each side. Preferably, the columns are substantial, such as a 6″×12″ steel I-beams . . . though it is noted that any size can be used depending on wind and snow loads. Wood-product beams (exemplified by glulam beam 154H in FIG. 25) are secured with bracket connectors (e.g., brackets 182H, 182H′) bolted to a selected area on the columns 151H. Though only brackets 182H, 182H′ are shown, it is contemplated that a variety of different brackets can be constructed such as brackets similar to any of the brackets illustrated in the previous figures. It is specifically contemplated that any of the buildings and structures shown in FIGS. 1-8, 10-11, 13-24 can be made using I beams instead of tubular columns.
  • The column 151H (FIG. 25) is secured to a foundation by L-shaped connectors 174H. A plate 187H has threaded studs that extend through holes in the brackets 182H, 182H′ and through selected holes 152H in the column 151H. The plate 187H is secured using mating nuts 187H′ engaging the studs. The plate 187H thus connects the brackets 182H and 182H′ to the column 151H at a selected location, with the plate 187H strengthening the connection by adding structure and torsional strength. In the illustrated joint, the plate 187H abuts an exterior surface of the flanges to which the brackets 182H and 182H′ are bolted. The illustrated joint does not include plates on the inside of the flanges of the I-beam column, but it is contemplated that elongated plates can also be placed on (abutted against) an inside surface of the flanges to add strength to the apertured flanges where the fasteners and nuts are located. The brackets 182H and 182H′ are bolted to the glulam beam 154H by threaded lag bolts 193H in a manner similar to that previously described in regard to FIG. 5. A structural insulated panel (SIP) 202H matingly engages an open channel-defining side of the I-beam column 151H, and is secured in place such as by fasteners extended through un-used holes 152H in the column 151H. (For a discussion of SIPs, see Porter U.S. Pat. No. 6,698,157.) Where two beams (154H) are attached to a given I-shaped column in perpendicular directions, the second bracket is substantially a pair of flat plates engaging an inside of the open side of the I-shaped column, the bracket including a column-engaging first flange (similar to the column-abutting flange on bracket 182H′) attached to an inside surface of the apertured flange on the I-shaped column (151H), and including a beam-receiving portion of the bracket extending outwardly from the column. The second bracket could also include a lower flange (see flange 251J, FIG. 26) for supporting a bottom of the beam.
  • An advantage of this I-beam construction is that access holes are not required to access a closed interior. (I.e. the I-beam does not include a closed cavity like the tubular column). Further, I-beams are potentially cheaper for raw material and yet have a suitable strength in the intended environment of buildings suitable for human occupancy. Still further, where the I-beam columns are used as stilts to space the building above a ground surface (see FIGS. 11, 23, 24), a portion of the I-beam columns are exposed such that they can be maintained more easily than a tubular column, such as by painting or to prevent termites from traveling up the beam.
  • FIG. 26 shows another embodiment using an I-beam column 151J, a bracket 182J, and a glulam beam 154J having a slot 154J′ in its end. The bracket 182J includes three plates welded together to form a vertical web 250J, a bottom flange 251J, and a column-abutting flange 252J. The column-abutting flange 252J includes holes that align with holes on the column 151J, and is fastened by bolts and nuts as previously described. The slot 154J′ of the glulam beam 154J fits onto the web 250J, with the extending portions of the beam 154J fitting into the pockets on each side of the web 250J of the bracket 182J. Holes are located in the extending portions of the beam (i.e., through the area of the slot 154J′), and bolts are extended through the holes in the extended portion of the beam and through mating holes on the web 250J. Nuts and washers are used to secure the assembled joint together. Notably, an external plate(s) can be added to an outside of the extended portion of the beam if desired to further add structure and torsional strength to the assembled joint. It is contemplated that the bracket 182J can be cut to support the beam 154J at virtually any selected angle to the vertical column 151J.
  • FIG. 27 illustrates another embodiment using first and second I-beam columns 151K and 151K′, a first bracket 182K for retaining a glulam beam 154K, and extender brackets 200K (compare to brackets 200 in FIG. 6) for connecting the columns 151K and 151K′ in a vertically aligned condition. The bracket 182K includes an I-beam portion 260K with a vertically-oriented center web and top and bottom flanges, and further includes a column-abutting flange 261K with holes for attachment to the column 151K. In this arrangement, the glulam beam 154K includes a slot 152K′ for matably engaging the web of the bracket 182K (similar to slot 154J′). Holes can be pre-drilled or drilled on site through the extended portions of the beam 154K and through the center web of the I-beam portion 260K for receiving bolts to secure the assembly together.
  • The extender brackets 200K abuttingly engage aligned apertured flanges of the I-beam columns 151K and 151K′ (FIGS. 27-28). Four extender brackets 200K are illustrated as being positioned on an inside of the associated flanges where they do not interfere with the planar outer plane defined by the flanges. This facilitates construction of the building by providing planar surfaces for attachment of sheeting or gypsum board to an inside and also for attachment of exterior insulation sheets or wall siding. However, it is contemplated that additional extender brackets 200K could be used in an exterior position on the flanges if desired, such as when a flat interior or exterior support surface is not required for supporting siding and the like. (For example, see the towers in FIGS. 17-18.)
  • It is contemplated that the bracket 182K could be replaced with an elongated I-beam configured to replace the glulam beam 154K. Specifically, the I-beam portion 260K would be extended to whatever length is necessary to replace the glulam beam (154K) required. For example, the I-beam could be used for floors, while the wood beam would be used for rafters and top plates of walls.
  • As will be recognized by persons skilled in building construction, buildings can be constructed using the present system that meet local building codes, including those codes in major cities such as Chicago, yet the buildings can be constructed with a custom look and to meet individual preference.
  • It is to be understood that variations and modifications can be made on the aforementioned structure without departing from the concepts of the present invention, and further it is to be understood that such concepts are intended to be covered by the following claims unless these claims by their language expressly state otherwise.

Claims (30)

1. A building frame comprising:
metal columns with preformed holes;
wood-product beams;
connectors with a first surface matably engaging a selected area on one of the columns and a second surface matably engaging an end of a selected one of the wood-product beams;
first mechanical fasteners for securing the connector to the selected area using the holes; and
second mechanical fasteners for securing the connector to the end of the selected beam.
2. The building frame defined in claim 1, wherein the preformed holes form a continuous and regular pattern along a length of the columns.
3. The building frame defined in claim 1, wherein the pattern includes two vertical rows.
4. The building frame defined in claim 1, wherein the columns include four flat sides, each of which includes at least one vertical row of the holes.
5. The building frame defined in claim 1, wherein the wood-product beams include wood board.
6. The building frame defined in claim 1, wherein the wood-product beams include bonded wood particles.
7. The building frame defined in claim 1, wherein the wood-product beams include glulam.
8. The building frame defined in claim 1, wherein the connectors are formed from sheet metal.
9. The building frame defined in claim 8, wherein each connector includes two opposing brackets.
10. The building frame defined in claim 8, wherein the opposing brackets each have a base flange engaging a side of one of the columns and a second flange oriented toward an angle defined by a length of the beam that is engaged.
11. The building frame defined in claim 10, wherein the base flanges each include second holes that align with the preformed holes in the column.
12. The building frame defined in claim 10, wherein the base flanges each include slots that permit adjustment of the opposing brackets tight against the beam that is engaged.
13. The building frame defined in claim 12, including a plate within the column with third holes that align with the second holes in the base flange.
14. The building frame defined in claim 1, wherein the first fasteners include bolts and nuts.
15. The building frame defined in claim 14, wherein the second fasteners include lag bolts.
16. The building frame defined in claim 1, including an extender column and an extender bracketry for connecting the extender column to an associated second one of the columns in an aligned stable position.
17. The building frame defined in claim 16, wherein the extender bracketry includes internal plates for engaging the extender column and the associated second column.
18. The building frame defined in claim 1, wherein the columns are tubular and include access holes on at least one side for manipulating fasteners within the column.
19. The building frame defined in claim 1, wherein the connectors include corner connectors adapted to attach to a corner of the column.
20. The building frame defined in claim 1, wherein the connectors include at least two different connectors for engaging beams at different horizontal angles.
21. The building frame defined in claim 1, wherein the column material includes structural steel forming an I-beam shape.
22. The building frame defined in claim 1, wherein the columns are steel, and the beams are one of roof rafters and wall top plates.
23. The building frame defined in claim 1, including structural insulated panels attached to the beams using long screws to form a roof.
24. A building comprising the building frame defined in claim 1 and further where the columns have an I beam shape, with at least a portion of an exterior surface of the columns being exposed for routine maintenance such as for termite prevention.
25. A building frame comprising:
a metal column with flat sides, a pair of spaced-apart parallel flanges extending from at least one side, the flanges each having a plurality of holes, the flanges defining an elongated pocket therebetween with a longitudinal centerline that extends at an acute angle to a horizontal plane;
a wood-product beam with an end shaped to closely fit into the pocket and engage an inside of both flanges; and
fasteners extended through the holes in the flanges and into the beam end for securing the flanges tight against the flanges and to the column with sufficient strength to form a frame joint for the building frame.
26. The building frame defined in claim 25, including a connector mechanically attached to the column, the connector incorporating the flanges.
27. A method of constructing a building frame comprising steps of:
providing a plurality of metal columns with preformed holes;
providing a plurality of wood-product beams;
selecting a connector from a plurality of connectors with first and second surfaces;
selectively positioning the first surface of the selected connector matably against a selected area on one of the columns and selectively positioning the second surface matably against an end of a selected one of the wood-product beams;
securing the selected connector to the selected area; and
securing the selected connector to the end of the selected beam.
28. The method defined in claim 27, including cutting a selected column to a desired length.
29. The method defined in claim 27, including cutting a selected beam to a desired length.
30. A method of constructing a building frame comprising steps of:
providing a plurality of metal columns with preformed holes;
providing a plurality of wood-product beams;
providing a plurality of different connectors for interconnecting a selected one beam to a selected one column at a desired non-horizontal angle;
cutting the selected beam and selected column to desired lengths; and
selecting a desired connector and connecting the selected beam to the selected column with the selected beam extending at the desired non-horizontal angle.
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