The Strange Reason New Construction Homes Don’t Have Traditional Mailboxes

published Sep 10, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Remigiusz Gora/Shutterstock.com

When my mom moved into a development with centralized mailboxes, I was a bit surprised. Up until then, I’d assumed they were reserved for apartment dwellers like me. Instead of a casual stroll down the driveway whenever we felt like it, getting the mail was a planned excursion down the street — and if you forgot the key to open your box or got there before the carrier did, too bad, you just had to come back. That said, I did see how they made work easier for mail carriers.

Another assumption of mine that was debunked only very recently? — builders call the shots when it comes to what kind of mailbox is installed. According to KB Home, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, “Builders don’t determine the type of mailbox in a development. The local municipality and USPS decide what type of mailbox should be used — whether that’s a cluster, on-house, or on-curb.”

That leads me to the big question: What’s up with the switch from traditional mailboxes to centralized ones? I went straight to the source and asked the United States Postal Service exactly that.

Credit: Marshalik Mikhail/Shutterstock.com

Less Damage and Theft

Damage, whether by vandalism or an accident, is common with traditional curbside mailboxes. Because of this, they have to be replaced more than centralized mailboxes, says USPS spokesperson Albert Ruiz. What’s more is that without any sort of lock, they’re also an easy target for theft.

Less Weather-Related Obstacles

With the accumulation of snow comes restricted access to traditional mailboxes (aka the roads/sidewalks that lead to them), which means carriers need to be able to drive up to each one individually. “With centralized delivery, homeowners or maintenance staff can work together to clear snow away,” states Ruiz.

Less Trips to the Post Office

“Postal regulations dictate that no item can be left at a location that is insecure or does not have a mail receptacle able to accommodate its size, unless the customer has agreed to accept responsibility for its safety,” Ruiz explains. With centralized mailboxes, carriers can deliver and secure most mail instead of leaving notices for pickup. Plus, whenever you head out on vacation, mail is able to accumulate in your secure box instead of having to be placed on hold at the post office.

Less Traffic Issues

With a centralized mailbox, carriers don’t have to navigate busy streets, pulling in and out between other cars for each stop — which, Ruiz points out, reduces the risks of injury to young children as well. Another point by Ruiz: “Postal customers do not have to be concerned about parked cars blocking their mailboxes and affecting mail delivery.”

More Privacy

Anyone can open up a traditional mailbox and learn more about the senders and recipients (or even open the mail), but centralized mailboxes help maintain anonymity. “[These mailboxes] have customers’ names protected and secured behind locked doors, with access only by Postal Service employees,” says Ruiz. Beyond that, only you can access your household’s individual box.