The nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) Partnership today announced consumer research findings and analysis underpinning a new transparency initiative entitled, No Code. No Confidence. Inspect to Protect.org. The organization created the effort after consumer surveys revealed that Americans are highly confident that building codes are already “in place” even though most communities at-risk for disaster are without necessary structural codes and standards for safe and optimal building performance.
The new commentary Why Americans Aren’t Concerned About Building Codes (even though they should be), outlines the research effort and introduces InspectToProtect.org—a new website that provides current residential building code statuses in an easy-to-understand format. The paper previews new Public Service Announcements, animations, and other program elements as well.
Two separate tracks informed to the campaign creation. First, behavior-focused studies indicated that while most consumers are not concerned or interested in codes, they strongly rejected the idea that codes may be absent or inadequate. Moreover, eight of ten assumed, incorrectly, that they are at least moderately protected by building codes. Another two-thirds of those surveyed indicated they would be very or extremely concerned to learn they had no code at all using words such as terrified to describe the scenario.
A companion effort focused on engineering analysis of residential building codes in more than twenty-three thousand U.S. cities and towns facing floods, high wind, hurricane, seismic, or tornado hazards. The analysis revealed that only 7,265 of the 23,000 communities had building codes with disaster-resistant provisions incorporated for both commercial and residential codes. This means that 69% of evaluated U.S. communities facing one or more of the above-described hazards is doing so without the benefit of current, relevant structural building codes.
“The research validates what we have always believed. Consumers are largely unaware of the dangerous gap between building code adoption, enforcement, and disaster risk,” said FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson. “They do not understand that they may live in a community without the protection of current, modern building codes and standards. That is why we’re providing them with a way to find out where they stand.”
InspectToProtect.org allows consumers to identify the building codes used in their community currently by inputting their address to see a map with a color-coded analysis of red, yellow, green, or black. The colors indicate residential code versions based on the best available, verified national data, and reflect the status of International Residential Code (IRC) model adoption. Consumers should contact their local building or planning department to learn about the code enforcement requirements as well as they may be voluntary, mandatory, or nonexistent.
“The best way to predict home performance before a disaster is to understand how it was built,” said Chapman-Henderson. “That’s why we are bringing this information out in the open. The No Code. No Confidence. initiative and InspectToProtect.org website are unprecedented efforts to de-complicate building codes for consumers and empower them with the knowledge to better prepare for severe weather events and natural disasters.”
Today, FLASH is launching a communication campaign to promote the new initiative. The campaign includes thought-provoking Public Service Announcements like the “Four-way Stop“, and a 2D movie trailer animation depicting the “Tale of Two Towns.” Social media advertising will help drive consumers to the website as well.