US Postal Service: A Primer on Apartment Mailboxes

April 16, 2012

Florence 4C MailboxesWhen you say the word “mailbox”, the image that most people hold in their mind for postal service is a curbside mailbox mounted on a post with a little red flag and a door at the end to receive mail delivery. And for suburban neighborhoods, this type of mailbox might be an excellent choice. But for construction or major renovation on an apartment building complex, developers must think outside the traditional mailbox for postal service. And for developers and project managers who are new to purchasing Commercial Apartment Mailboxes, here’s an overview or primer on this crucial tenant issue.

UPDATE: 4C Pedestal Mailboxes have been discontinued as of November 30, 2020. The USPS Cluster Box Unit (CBU) Mailbox is now the standard for all multi-family mail delivery.

Apartment Mailboxes Must Meet 3 Primary USPS Requirements

In order to choose the best mailboxes for apartment buildings a developer must resolve three primary issues for postal service (mail delivery):

  1. Will the apartment mailboxes be installed indoors or outdoors?
  2. Do the tenants and budget favor centralized mail delivery or decentralized delivery? (Should the apartment mailboxes be installed “all together” in a single area or space or should they be installed throughout the apartment building or complex?)
  3. Will the apartment mailboxes be installed in new construction or replacing used apartment mailboxes? (i.e. Will they be mailbox replacement units as part of a major apartment building renovation, which to the United States Postal Service [USPS] equates to new construction, or will they simply be a replacement unit of an existing apartment mailbox?

Once these three issues are resolved, the selection of the proper apartment mailboxes for the apartment complex or building project at hand becomes quite straightforward. In fact, the best place to start in your search for apartment building mailboxes is the third question; “new/major construction or replacement“.

Replacing Used Apartment Mailboxes

If one is replacing residential or commercial apartment mailboxes, one must replace them with the same mailbox unit style currently in use, as any major renovations require that the apartment complex mailboxes be upgraded to the latest approved USPS apartment mailboxes. If the project is new construction or a major renovation, the United States Postal Service requires that USPS-approved apartment mailboxes must be utilized for the project.

So, regardless of where one purchases their Commercial Mailboxes for apartment buildings, the most important initial factor for the selection of the right apartment mailboxes is their US Postal Service approval. Reviewing the needs of your apartment building project with the specialists at The MailboxWorks and your local Post Office is always the best way to start your project.

Indoor Apartment Building Mailboxes

If the project is new construction or major renovation, the most important question in terms of apartment building mailboxes becomes whether the apartment mailboxes are installed indoors or outdoors. For indoor installations, 4C Apartment Mailboxes manufactured by The MailboxWork’s Florence Manufacturing are the best fit whether one is seeking centralized mail delivery solutions or decentralized delivery. These indoor 4C apartment complex mailboxes are also referred to as USPS std-4c compliant mailboxes.

Outdoor Apartment Building Mailboxes

If the apartment building or multi-tenant complex requires outdoor apartment building mailboxes for mail delivery, the choices of approved commercial apartment mailboxes for mail delivery by the USPS widens significantly. For outdoor apartment mailbox solutions that require centralized delivery, one may group CBU Mailboxes (also called cluster mailboxes or cluster mailbox units) so that these apartment mailbox units form an outdoor area where tenants receive their mail delivery. These CBU mailboxes will accommodate up to 16 tenants per CBU mailbox. However, if one wishes to reduce the number of CBU mailboxes required for their centralized apartment mailbox delivery area, versatile 4C mailbox suites mounted on a pedestal may also be used with local postal approval. These pedestal 4C commercial mailboxes can accommodate nearly twice the tenants per unit (up to 29 tenants per 4C commercial mailbox).

If however, the building project’s outdoor apartment mailboxes are best designed to be decentralized for postal service mail delivery, then CBU mailboxes are often the most popular choice to increase tenant retention; these cluster box units can be located closer to the tenants since their maximum tenant use is lower than the 4C commercial mailboxes on a pedestal (which still must be approved by the postal service if chosen for use).

Conversely, if project budget constraints are more important, a developer may wish to get local postal service approval to use 4C commercial mailboxes on a pedestal for their apartment complex mailboxes because although they are no more cost-efficient on a per-tenant unit basis, it is simply easier and less expensive on labor costs to install one 4C commercial mailbox than installing two CBU mailboxes.

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