These days, as property managers are refurbishing their buildings and updating their facilities, it’s easy to get lost in the details and costs of the process. Building owners have a lot on their plates and tend to prioritize the obvious when planning a new development, but sometimes that leads to losing sight of one important aspect of their properties: their mailboxes.
Though at first glance your development’s mailboxes might seem inconsequential, having an efficient centralized mailbox system is vital to the value of your property and the happiness of your residents — not to mention USPS regulation compliancy — and if you do it right the first time it will save you a lot of money down the road.
We sat down with Joe Silberstein from M-Box Supply Inc who’s been working with clients all over New York City, and he shared with us some valuable advice about how to choose the right mailbox for your project. These three tips will make your project development run a lot smoother!
1. Plan Ahead
This should be common sense but more often than not architects wait till the last minute to include a mailroom in their design — if they even include one at all. Mailrooms cannot be easily added in without prior planning. The spatial requirements are very specific and can be a real headache if you have to knock out a few walls to fit in mailboxes.
If you’re looking to go out-of-house for your mailbox installation, be sure to send your mailbox dealer detailed blueprints or floor plans of your development so that they can plan accordingly within the limitations of the space. Know beforehand how many units you will be serving and get an idea of what their needs will be.
The type of project you’re dealing with will affect what mailboxes you can use and how you can implement them. A new construction project gives your mailbox provider more time to review the plans and make a proposal, and then work with the USPS to get the plans approved before construction starts. This can often save you money in the long run and keep everything organized and running smoothly.
If you’re working with an existing building, whether you’re replacing an old mailbox system or building something new, you’re going to have to get your hands dirty. Your mailbox providers will inevitably have to make an onsite visit in order to get a good idea of how much space is available and what mailbox styles will be possible.
2. Fit Your Mailbox to Your Property’s Needs
There is no one-size-fits-all for mailboxes. The fact of the matter is your development needs a centralized mailbox system and one way or another that’s going to happen. The real question is space.
If you have a lobby large enough to accommodate STC-4C recessed mailboxes and you’re able to spend the money on them, they are by far the best option. 4C recessed mailboxes take up the least amount of floor space (and the most amount of wall space). They’re stylish, modern and typically fit in well with the rest of the building.
However, recessed mailboxes are difficult to upgrade. In July 2020, the USPS changed their requirements for the package locker to mail locker ratio. It used to be one package locker for every 10 mail lockers. Now it’s 1:5 (and in all honesty, it is good that the USPS doubled the parcel locker requirements).
Any building owner should bear in mind that the demand for packages and, likewise, package space has only gone up in the last ten years. These new regulations from the USPS are still not enough to keep up with the pace.
Property managers should keep an eye toward the future and flexibility when planning their centralized mail systems. 4C surface mount mailboxes can be configured to fit in a wider variety of areas and can be set on thinner walls, however, at the expense of floor space.
Cluster box unit (CBU) mailboxes are typically set outside of a building and can be used strategically for larger developments. If having one central hub for mailboxes is not feasible given the size of your property and the number of units you’re servicing, then CBU mailboxes can be used in clusters for specific buildings.
3. Know the Rules
A wide variety of codes, statutes and laws govern both the construction and application of mailboxes. Failure to adhere to the regulations can set you back several thousand dollars in reinstallation costs, assuming you don’t have to modify the actual structure of your mailroom to accommodate the USPS approved mailboxes — at which point the cost is even more.
So how complicated can postal regulations be? More than you might think. The Americans with Disabilities Act formally outlines a portion of the specifications that all mailboxes have to meet in order to be compliant.
Mailboxes must meet certain minimum and maximum height requirements. Their physical placement on the property is also governed by USPS regulations in order to ensure the safety of the mail carrier and the mail recipients themselves.
If you don’t know all the codes and laws, it helps to work with someone who does. Search for a dealer in your project’s area who will be familiar with all local and federal codes. Or work with a manufacturer who has close ties to USPS and whose products are already USPS-approved.
As you can see, much and more goes into choosing the right mailbox for your development. It shouldn’t be tacked on at the end, and it should be at the forefront of your mind. Mailboxes can be a minor project if approached correctly or they can make your life miserable if held until too late or aren’t approved by the USPS.
Dealers like Joe Silberstein take it upon themselves to streamline the evaluation and installation process as best as they can, making it easier for building owners to focus on other ways to better their properties and, simultaneously, their residents’ experiences.
In short, it doesn’t have to be your problem. Mailbox manufacturers like Florence are well-versed in the myriad codes that will affect where and what kind of mailboxes you can use for your property. With dealers available around the U.S., rest assured that we can assist no matter where your mailbox is located. Just send us the blueprints and let us do the work for you.