A QUICK OVERVIEW OF THE DIFFERENT LEVELS OF OFFICE FIT OUT
There are no standard industry definitions of the different levels of fit out but the four main levels or categories are Cat A, Cat B, Cat A Plus and Shell and Core. An office building is generally handed over to a landlord as a Shell and Core. A landlord will then carry out a Cat A fit out ready for a tenant to rent. A tenant will then carry out a Cat B fit out to make the space ideal for them to occupy. A Cat A Plus Fit Out is a half-way house typically where a landlord is offering a shorter term lease and the tenant wants a space they can move into straight away with minimum hassle or expense.
In this article we explain what each level of fit out is and what are the differences between them.
WHAT IS A SHELL AND CORE FIT OUT?
A Shell and Core Fit Out is essentially the bare bones of an office building’s interior. This is generally how the construction company responsible for constructing the building hands it over to the developer or landlord. The building will look complete on the outside but on the inside the office space is just a shell. The office spaces will still have bare concrete floors and walls, with no lighting, power or data.
Although the office space is a bare shell, the main core of the building will be completed. The standard of finish will vary but essentially the lifts, toilets and reception area will be ready for occupation.
WHAT IS A CAT A FIT OUT?
Although there is no standard specification, a Cat A fit out usually include a suspended ceiling, basic lighting, heating and ventilation, and a basic carpet. It’s all pretty basic but essentially usable. This is how the space would be let to a tenant or occupier. It is then left to the tenant to customise the space and make it their own.
IS A CAT A FIT OUT SPACE READY TO MOVE INTO?
If you are thinking that you only need to add your furniture before you move in then you may need to think again. While a Cat A space is technically habitable, they are generally a bare, open-plan space that is then treated as a blank canvas for office designers. If you were to move straight into a Cat A space, you wouldn’t have any meeting rooms, individual offices, teapoint or kitchen. For this, you’ll need to install a Cat B fit out.
WHAT’S USUALLY INCLUDED IN A CAT A OFFICE FIT OUT:
Raised access floors and suspended ceilings (with a basic finish)
Basic mechanical and electrical services
Basic Fire detection system and alarm
A level of air-conditioning and ventilation (HVAC)
Basic internal finishes
Bear in mind that many elements, such as fire detection, lighting and aircon, will need to added to or changed if you add meeting rooms or start dividing up the space.
WHAT IS A CAT B FIT OUT?
A Cat B Fit Out, as you would expect, follows on from a Cat A Fit Out. This is to provide a tailored space that is ideal for your company. Once complete you will be able to move straight in and start working. The final design of the space needs to be customised to suit your particular way of working, your culture and your brand.
A Cat B office fit out is tailored to the individual needs of your business and workforce. It will deliver the right mix of workstations, breakout areas, meeting rooms, quiet areas and zoom rooms. It is important that you get the design of the space right. We recommend that workplace consultancy exercise is undertaken, before any design work is started. This is to help understand how your team are currently using the different parts of the office space and to identify any gaps that need to be filled.
A well-designed Cat B Office Fit Out should also reflect your brand and culture. This isn't just about choosing furniture, but about ensuring that your office is somewhere that your employees will love to work. Your office should help you attract and retain your industry's best talent.
WHAT’S USUALLY INCLUDED IN YOUR CAT B FIT OUT:
Staff kitchens and teapoints
Creating meeting rooms, offices and breakout spaces
Workstations and furniture
Changes to ventilation and air conditioning
Data cabling and wi-fi infrastructure
Feature finishes and branding
There is no standard for a Cat B fit out. The key is that it is tailored to the exact requirements of your business. If done properly it will support your business in meeting it’s goals and objectives. If it is designed poorly however, it can easily damage your business resulting in under-used spaces and unhappy staff.
WHAT IS A CAT A PLUS FIT OUT?
A Cat A Plus Fit Out is midway between the standard Cat A and Cat B fit outs. A Cat A Plus essentially should provide a plug-and-play office space for tenants. This will generally include furniture, meeting spaces and kitchen facilities. There is a growing trend for this type of space due to the reduction in hassle, capital outlay and time required before moving in. The disadvantages are that lease costs will be higher and the space will not be tailored to your exact needs or in line with your company culture.
UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE DIFFERENT LEVELS OF OFFICE FIT OUT
If you’re about to sign a lease for a new office space, either a Shell and Core, a Cat A or even Cat A Plus, make sure you understand exactly what will be included. In the industry, there is no universal standard as to what is included in each level of fit out, and one landlord’s idea of a Cat A Fit Out may be very different to another.
Hopefully this article has provided some useful information on the difference between a Cat A and Cat B Office Fit Out.
We are specialists in workplace design and build based on the South Coast. We create amazing workplaces for successful companies.
If you are considering a office fit out project we would like to help - just give us a call on 023 9248 9933 or fill in the contact form to request a free initial consultation.