So, you’ve taken the bold decision to relocate to new premises. If you’re leasing space in an existing property, or moving into a newly constructed building, you'll need to carry out a workspace fit out. Simple so far? Not necessarily.
With jargon like ‘shell and core’ and two different types of fit outs – Cat A and Cat B, occupiers could be forgiven for getting confused; especially if they’ve been tasked with managing a project which is far removed from the core tasks of their day job.
In this short guide, we’ll cut through the confusion and cover the differences between each of these terms and leave you with a much better understanding of what to look out for when relocating to a new space.
What is a Fit Out?
A fit out relates to the process of making an interior space suitable for occupation. It is the end-to-end process of transforming a building’s concrete shell into a habitable working environment. A fit out includes the electrical, mechanical, decoration and furnishing of a space.
In many cases, a developer or landlord will complete the base construction of an interior space which is referred to as a CAT A. It’s then passed to the occupant who will more than likely appoint an expert in office interiors to complete the final fit-out that’s tailored to their requirements which in the world of commercial office design is called a CAT B .
(Read our blog - 9 Office Fit-out Ideas that will Improve your Company Culture - to discover the benefits an office fit out can offer your company). Below we determine the differences between each type of fit-outs.
Shell and Core
Shell and Core is the completed outer framework of a building. Think of its concrete and metal space like the bare bones. From the outside, the building may look completed but inside the office space is yet to be installed.
The developer usually provides the Shell and Core which comprises of office structure, external works and completed common areas such as basements, staircases, reception areas, lift shafts, loading bays and toilets. Shell and Core will not comprise of any lighting or facilities.
CAT A Fit Out
CAT A spaces, refers to a basic level of fit-out from a landlord that gives the occupant a blank canvas for their office space. Although there is no standard definition for this type of fit-out, a CAT A fit-out will have a floor and walls finished to a basic standard.
CAT A fit-out includes:
- Raised floors
- Suspended ceiling
- Installation of the buildings mechanical and electrical services
- Fire detection and protection services
- Air-conditioning and ventilation units
- Internal surface finishes
Top Tip: Occupants should bear in mind that a landlord may request the office space to be returned to them in a Cat A state at the end of the tenancy period.
CAT B Fit Out
A CAT B fit-out is designed and installed to the specific requirements of the occupier. The best fit-outs should reflect an organisation’s culture, ethos and behaviour. It will be designed to ensure the inhabitants perform to their optimum levels, combining happiness with productivity.
CAT B spaces, is a type of fit-out that most people will be familiar with. This provides a space where the occupant can simply move into a fully functioning working environment and ensure a suitable office fit for a workforce, this further helps with attracting and retaining talent.
(Take a read of our blog - Attracting And Retaining The Right People For Your Business)
CAT B fit-out tends to include:
- Design & branding detail
- Private office spaces
- Common and breakout rooms
- Kitchen and snack facilities
- Office furniture
- Doors and partitions
- IT installation and infrastructure
Watch out for...
In this section of the article, we want to highlight a few points that you should bear in mind with an office fit-out.
No industry standard - There is no universal standard as to what is included in each level of fit out. We recommend speaking with your landlord to make sure you understand exactly what will be included; for a CAT A fit-out.
Doubling your budget - If you’re signing a lease on new office space, it’s important to note that you could pay twice for your office fit-out.
Following the exit of an outgoing tenant from your new office space, the landlord will return the office space back to CAT A. This can involve replacing carpets, stripping out old partitions and re-painting surfaces back to a lettable condition.
As you prepare to move into your new tenancy, you might find that the office’s CAT A fit-out goes against your brand and is not how you want office space to look. For this, you conduct a CAT B fit-out to create the office space you want, and good money gets spent twice.
The solution: We recommend that you enquire with your landlord for a landlord’s contribution to the new carpet and paint that you want for your office.
We work closely with our clients to provide and carry out CAT A and CAT B office fit outs. From relocation to refurbishing, we’re happy to hear and help you with your design requirements, why not take a read of our Case Studies.
If you need any advice, get in touch.