This is by no means the ‘letterbox of our dreams’, and certainly more resembles ‘the cheapest one we could find at Bunnings’. But while it’s not our forever-box, there is a certain feeling of milestone-reaching that comes with installing your very first letterbox in your very first home. That’s why we decided to share the moment.
So we needed a letterbox. And here’s what we did.
This very morning, as I was putting the Hammerlings in the car to cart them off to school, our mail-lady drove into our driveway. I love that small-town feeling of meeting the people who deliver your mail. She introduced herself and I had the opportunity to ask her if she had any requirements or opinions on letterboxes.
Right?! How many mail-people get asked what THEY want in a letterbox? We’re just that kind of awesome.
The only request she had was that the letter slot stand at least 950mm from the ground so it was easier for her to stick her arm out the window of her car and pop it in. Easy done.
With that in mind, we (and again, by ‘we’, I mean ‘Mr Hammer’), dug a hole in our hard clay ground with a crow bar. I was present. I held the shovel and the crow bar, when not in use, very efficiently.
Mr Hammer didn’t really need my muscles at this point anyway. Little Miss Hammerling was armed with her own shovel, and ready to dig.
The hole was dug to a depth of 400mm. It only needed to be 350mm, but it is important to have a layer of concrete under the pole (so it’s not hard against the earth), otherwise your metal pole will rust with the dampness from the ground, and a timber post will deteriorate.
Mr Hammer mixed up a bucket of concrete and poured it into the hole. The mixture was slightly wet, so he added a handful of dirt to make it stiff enough for the pole to stand unsupported in the wet concrete.
Use a spirit level (don’t have one? This is a list of must-have tools for all your DIY needs!) to make sure it’s standing straight and leave it to set. Quick-drying concrete will take about 15 minutes before it’s too stiff to move whatever is in it, so work quickly!
If you get a letterbox from a shop, like we did, it should come with all your screws and nuts and bolts, so simply attach the head to the post.
Now we added our super-classy council-issued numbers. We certainly didn’t need to use these. The internet brings up a whole world of house numbers that look really cool. But for us, the letterbox is temporary (although it will last as long as we want it to), so the actual numbers are temporary.
We attached the numbers with silicone, but because silicone takes time to set, we also used double-sided tape to affix the plates while the silicone dried.
And there it is, against really thoughtfully-planned landscaping, our first letterbox.
And here is Little Miss Hammer’s Shovel Tree. Because apparently making a hole for a letterbox wasn’t enough digging.
Small backstory: When we bought this land, it had been newly subdivided from a parcel of much larger land. In fact, the paperwork to have it subdivided went through after we had put in our offer.
It wasn’t until the house was close to being finished that we started to investigate what street number we would be assigned. In rural areas, the street number is determined by how far away in metres the driveway is from the start of the road.
I called our friendly local council and asked for the process to have a number alloted to our land shortly before we moved in. The super-cheerful lady (who did admit she was high on caffeine) at the other end helpfully filled out all the paperwork internally. Happy days!
The confusion in street numbering lay in the fact that our neighbours once utilised a driveway that is now part of our land – at the end of that driveway is their letterbox. So because a driveway with a numbered letterbox led into our property, utility companies simply assumed that was the street number of this land. Mail for us began to appear in their letterbox. They, very kindly, left our mail on our stairs.
Four weeks (and a fresh application to replace the original ‘lost internally’ one) later, and we have a street number!
Insert Happy Dance Here.
Now we can receive mail. That’s always good!