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Costly Mailbox Rules Take Effect in September



The ubiquitous Rural Free Delivery tunnel mailbox was designed in 1915 by Roy J. Joroleman. Photo: National Postal Museum

Multifamily developers need to be aware that more stringent U.S. Postal Service requirements for new multifamily mailboxes, approved in October 2004, go into effect in September.

The new rules govern the design, manufacture and installation requirements for wall-mounted mailboxes, outgoing mail receptacles and parcel lockers in multifamily buildings and will apply to any building permitted by local jurisdictions after Sept. 3, 2006.

The new requirements are:

  • Individual tenant mailboxes must have a minimum interior dimension of 3” high x 12” wide x 15” deep and must be oriented horizontally.

  • Parcel lockers will be required if no other means of parcel receiving is planned (such as a management office or concierge service). If no alternative is planned, a minimum of one “Standard” parcel locker with minimum interior dimensions of 15”h x 12”w x 15”d will be required for every 10 dwelling units in a building.

  • Mailboxes must meet more stringent manufacturing requirements to improve tamper- and weather-resistance.

  • There are no mandatory retrofit requirements when mailbox units in existing buildings are replaced. However, the new requirements may pertain if the building is undergoing a substantial renovation and structural alterations in the mailbox area create an opportunity to accommodate the new design.

  • Although the requirements for manufacturers became effective Oct. 4, 2004, the new mailbox units are not required to be installed in any new construction for which permit documents are submitted to the local jurisdiction prior to Sept. 3, 2006.

  • Manufacturers have estimated a 15% to 30% increase in the cost of mailbox units as a result of the more stringent requirements. However, builders will incur additional costs for parcel lockers in projects where they will be required, and the additional space for the lockers could present additional design challenges.

Although NAHB expressed concern that there was no cost-benefit analysis of the rule and that local postmasters have the final say in determining which buildings need parcel lockers, the Postal Service went ahead with all the provisions it had proposed.

For more information, e-mail Jeff Inks at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8547.

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