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What are the Differences Between a Cat A Fit Out and Cat B?

Updated: Mar 5

It can feel daunting moving into a new office space or refurbishing your existing workspace and there is a lot of industry jargon. We have created a guide to help with understanding the fit out world, which can be confusing for those unfamiliar with the industry. We discuss the differences between the two and what is Cat A and Cat B office fit out as well as expectations from your fit out partner, so you have a full understanding of your project.

Put simply, Cat A transforms a space making it fully functional, yet empty. Cat B transforms the space tailored exactly to the occupant with the space suitable for occupation. It would be completely branded down to acoustic panelling, office plants and fully fitted office furniture. It is helpful to understand initially what a fit out actually is.

What is a Fit Out?

A fit out is taking an empty space, a blank canvas and making it a functional and practical place to work, ensuring that the interior space meets the needs of those occupying it. This can include things like installing facilities such as washrooms, installation of air conditioning, creating a suspended ceiling, raising of the floor and creation of meeting rooms or new offices and furniture supply and installation.

It is common for new offices to be handed over as an empty space, in what is called a Shell and Core or a Cat A fit out. The reason being it can be left to the occupiers to put their own stamp on the space, branding it with their colours, decorating the way that works for them and installing the furniture to suit their own staffing. This is known as a Cat B fit out.

The most requested types of fit out are the Cat A and Cat B fit outs however these are not the only types. Shell and Core comes with its own important distinctions. To allow you to fully understand your project it is fundamental to understand what this is.

cat b fit out

What is Shell and Core?

Whilst a shell and core fit may look complete from the outside the inside is far from. It is merely the stage after the construction of the concrete building. Things such as mechanical and electrical services will still not have entered the building to install things such as air conditioning and lighting. At this stage only shared facilities with the occupants such as toilets, reception areas and lifts will be completed, leaving the separate office working spaces bare for the incoming occupants.

Shell and Core includes things such as:

  • Lift shafts

  • Loadings bays

  • Lobbies

  • Concrete and metal frame

cat b fit out

What is a Cat A fit out?

A Cat A fit out is the next stage after the shell and core. At this stage things such as raised flooring, suspended ceilings, hard surfaces will have been installed. Also, at this stage the mechanical and electrical services will have been in to install air conditioning and lighting etc. It will be a useable but empty space.

This is often how landlords hand over buildings to occupants so it is also worth noting it can somethings be how they expect the building to be handed over at the end of tenancy. If this is the case it would be an important consideration on the types of fixtures and fittings to include within the space, ensuring that they can be removed when necessary. Move Management could also be a consideration here.

Category A fit outs include things such as:

  • Lighting

  • Air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC)

  • Raised Flooring and/or suspended ceiling

  • Fire detection systems and smoke alarms

  • Toilets

  • Basic internal finishes

  • Basic mechanical and electrical services

cat b fit out

What is a Cat B fit out?

A Cat B fit out is a fully function working space where you can simply move in and begin to work. Prior to any layout design is carried out space planning and workplace consultancy should be carried out to understand what is required and how best to utilise the new space, understanding how employees currently work, how many desks are required, whether they wanted to future proof the space to allow for growth and an increased workforce.

In doing this the cat b projects allow the space to be completely tailored to the exact needs of your business, the right mix of workstations will be installed, meeting rooms built and ready, breakout areas created and even office plants and office acoustics will be installed at this stage using your brand colours.

It is very important to work closely with a fit out partner to get this right and ensure that the space is tailored to your brand values and company culture making it a functional and productive place to work.

Cat B fit outs include things such as:

  • Creation of meeting rooms using partitioning (as well as offices and breakout spaces)

  • Office furniture supply and installation (workstations and furniture)

  • Design and brand

  • Lighting & facilities

  • Branded material and decor, including acoustic wall panels

  • Floor finishing’s

  • Kitchen areas, cafes, tea points and non-communal office amenities

  • Storage walls

  • Air conditioning, power points and heating

  • IT installation and infrastructure

Hopefully this guide allows you to have more of an understanding on the considerations of the different types of office fit outs and the key considerations involved. To learn more about the best type of solution for you get in touch at us on 0843 122 9545 and we would be happy to discuss your requirements in more depth and find out how we can transform your working environment into an inspirational place that you’ll love to spend time in.

Call - 0843 122 9545

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