You’ll hear the phrase ‘fit out’ thrown around a lot in our industry; however, what does it mean? A fit-out is the process of taking a concrete shell and making a space that is fit for occupation. Whether that be an office, a retail store or a coffee shop – the purpose is to make the space fit for use through the installation of facilities, floors and internal spaces.
Now, there are numerous kinds of fit-outs and we could talk for days about the various levels; however, the two main ones you need to be concerned with are: Category A (Cat A) fit-outs and Category B (Cat B) fit-outs.
What is a Cat A fit-out?
A Cat A fit out refers to the basic finishing of an interior space often carried out by a landlord/developer/investor to prepare a building ready for an end-user client e.g. a tenant/business. It is inhabitable and will resemble more of a blank canvas – a white box, meaning that while it will have lighting, flooring and walls; it will otherwise be empty and will need to be furnished with tables, chairs, electrical appliances, etc. before you can start using it as a workspace.
As you can guess, this kind of fit out is perfect for anyone wanting to create a bespoke working environment, as you’ll be able to design and add elements that will not only make it liveable but will be unique to your brand and company ethos.
What does a typical Cat A fit-out include?
- Raised access floors and suspended ceilings
- Mechanical services e.g. basic air conditioning, ventilation, controls, etc.
- Electrical services – lighting, power, etc.
- Fire detection and protection services that are in line with building regulations i.e. smoke detectors and fire alarms
- Internal surface finishes done to industrial standards i.e. plain white walls that are ready to be decorated
- Refurbishment of common areas including toilets, shower facilities, lifts, lobbies, break out areas, etc. (Note: this will only be done if it hasn’t been covered in a Shell and Core fit-out)
What is a Cat B fit-out?
Cat B fit outs differ from Cat A as you’ll be provided with a finished space that you can move into and start using straight away. Similar to Cat A you will have lighting, flooring and walls, but you’ll also find that it already contains meeting rooms, furniture, a kitchen space and company branding that has been done to your specifications.
In other words, you could say Cat B follows on from Cat A and is the design element of your new office. Here, you can take this empty space and transform it into a functioning work environment that embodies your business ideals, personality, culture and people.
What does a typical Cat B fit-out include?
- Partitions, door and floor finishes
- Private office spaces
- Meeting and conference rooms
- A reception area
- Specialist lighting and perhaps window blinds
- Intruder alarms and access controls
- Reconfiguring air conditioning
- Staircase installation
- Ceiling design
- IT and audiovisual equipment including power outlets, a comms room (to handle your data/networking infrastructure), etc.
- Well-being facilities
- Kitchen/breakout /tea point/café area
- Wash facilities – this can extend to having additional toilets and showers
- Office furniture e.g. desks, workstations, chairs, meeting booths, etc.
- Signage, branding and any other finishing touches
NOTE: this list can vary depending on the requirements of your business.
What are the benefits of Cat A Fit Outs?
One of the biggest benefits of a Cat A fit out is that it is cheaper; is less work for a contractor, and can offer users a temporary workspace that can be easily changed to suit the requirements of their business.
In the long run, a Cat B will probably be needed, especially when it is leased out to a business. However, if you’re a landlord a Cat B fit out can be passed onto the tenant to complete, saving you money.
What are the benefits of Cat B Fit Outs?
Unlike Cat A fit outs, Cat B’s are ready to be moved into, meaning you don’t have to wait to get your business up and running.
Instead, this space will have been professionally designed to be functional, aesthetically pleasing and able to cater to your well-being requirements. More importantly, as you will have influenced this design space, you will have the advantage of having incorporated purpose-built areas that have been installed to assist with specific tasks that are unique to your business. This means, no space will be wasted or deemed unusable as you’ll have designed them with a job in mind.
The biggest perk of this type of fit out is that there will be greater brand identity within the design. This will lead to better productivity, respect and ownership from your workers.
As you can see, there are distinct advantages to Cat A and Cat B fit outs. The decision you’ve got to make is how much time and money you want to invest into this space.
For help designing your office and progressing it from a Cat A to a Cat B, why not contact our team as Resolution Interiors today? With years of design experience, we can help you to design your perfect office layout and transform it into a fully functional, bespoke workspace.