In the construction process, it’s not always clear whether you should have an outdoor or indoor mailbox system. Though the differences might seem inconsequential, either system has significant impact on the aesthetic quality of your development, the construction timeline, and the safety and security of residents and mail carriers.
That’s a lot to consider! But it’s important to know what factors to keep in mind, so designers can decide on indoor vs. outdoor mailboxes.
Where to Start: Indoor vs. Outdoor Mailboxes?
Before designers start to plan the details of their centralized mailbox system, outdoor or indoor, they should contact the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).
“It is important to note that Postal Service representatives are still required to meet with builders and developers early in the process to ensure the best choices are made and to assess if the mode of delivery directed to be put in place conforms to the policies of the Postal Service,” according to USPS policy.
In other words, designers have a say in the decision, but it’s the USPS who gives final approval on your centralized mailbox location and design.
The USPS takes into consideration the amount of space you’ll be working with, the needs and safety of residents and mail carriers and the convenience of the location. Accounting for these factors won’t just result in a safe and successful mail delivery system for your project, but can mitigate costly renovations down the line.
“Controlling future costs begins with good base decisions whenever new deliveries are added to the delivery infrastructure. These include the mode of delivery and location and type of equipment, as well as the safety and convenience of both carriers and customers,” according to the USPS.
But, if you don’t like your first answer from USPS, make sure to set up additional meetings with them (at their convenience). Sometimes a proposal may have been misunderstood and simply needs added clarification. Open communication is always going to get the best result — for everyone involved.
Considerations Around Indoor Mailbox Designs
The USPS has a clear policy on any centralized mailbox design: “Boxes must be safely located so that customers are not required to travel an unreasonable distance to obtain their mail and to provide sufficient access to mailbox locations. Normally, within one block of the residence is appropriate.”
An indoor design can be simple or complex, should accommodate the residents’ needs, comply with applicable accessibility requirements and will need to adhere to any specific design standards from clients.
There are a few outstanding benefits that indoor mailbox designs offer to designers:
By keeping your mailboxes indoors, you negate the damaging effects that the elements would have on outdoor mailboxes. This preserves aesthetic appeal and saves money on repairs in the long run.
Regrettably, mail theft is a serious and growing problem in some residential communities: Florence provides indoor mailboxes that have been rigorously tested to provide the highest degree of security.
Designers can also include “smart” parcel lockers that add space for resident package delivery from any parcel carrier and dramatically boosts the appeal of your community.
Indoor mailbox solutions also provide a unique environment where residents can meet and get to know each other. This creates a stronger sense of community and has been shown through recent case studies to promote resident happiness and satisfaction — all achieved just by designing the right community mail and package center!
Taking It Outside: Designing Outdoor Mailbox Systems
If your residential project covers a larger area, it might not be feasible to have only one mailroom, as was the case for a recent project in a Brooklyn-based multi-family community.
The community was underserved by its existing indoor mailroom: It was several blocks away for many residents and had been vandalized too many times to count. But by building clustered outdoor mailboxes (or CBUs) outside each building, designers made it easier to meet every resident’s needs without the costly construction or renovation of the previous indoor mailroom. And because CBUs have built in parcel lockers - the new outdoor mail equipment provided residents with much needed secure package delivery space conveniently located in close proximity to their mailbox.
Outdoor mail center designs and mailbox equipment offer a few benefits to designers who need alternatives to indoor systems.
If placed in a welcoming, highly visible location, outdoor mailboxes have been proven to be just as safe as their indoor counterparts. Paired with a community’s pool, clubhouse or recreation center, they provide residents with an organic center that promotes friendly interaction and a stronger sense of community.
Outdoor mailboxes are often easier to add later in the developmental stage than their indoor counterparts.
Today’s mailboxes are designed to withstand even the most severe weather conditions and are much more durable than they were twenty years ago.
Both 4C mailboxes and free-standing CBU equipment can be used outdoors, whereas an indoor design primarily uses 4C products.
Planning Ahead for Safer, Successful Mail Delivery Systems
Assuming you are using either CBU or 4C USPS Approved mailbox products, there is no wrong choice when you’re deciding on a mailbox design ... but there is often a best choice for your project. The USPS will work with designers to find the most ideal solution and will take into consideration the needs of your residents and the realities of your project.
And when you work with mail delivery experts like Florence, you’ll be confident that you made the right decision for your project. It’s easy to find a Florence dealer serving your area, so you can get started on your design today.