As with all industries, the design and build industry is full of jargon and specialist terms which to most people mean nothing. Starting out with some of the most common terms and questions we have form our clients, we’ll be explaining what Cat A, Cat A + and Cat B fit-outs are and the difference between the 3.
What is a Cat A fit-out?
Putting it simply, Cat A, or category A fit-out is the basic finish of an interior space, with a scope that typically covers mechanical and electrical (M&E) supply, lighting, walls, suspended ceilings and raised floor. Usually this phase would be completed by a landlord, making the space habitable but giving tenants a blank canvas to design and furnish the space provided according to their requirements.
Some of the typical works you’d expect to be carried out in a Cat A fit-out are:
- Mechanical & electrical services
- Ceiling lighting
- Suspended ceilings
- Raised access floors
- Fire facilities
- Toilet shell
What is a Cat A + fit-out?
Cat A+ fit out is the halfway mark between Cat A and Cat B where the landlord fits the space out to a degree that it is ready for someone to move in and work from straight away. As customer expectations increase, Cat A+ is becoming increasingly popular in the industry since it enables tenants to effectively plug in and go as soon as they take on the space. Although these spaces can just be walked straight into, most of these spaces will still need a certain amount of adaptation and personalisation to suit the specific needs of the organisation.
What is Cat B fit-out?
Cat B, or category B fit-outs is everything that goes in a space to define the layout, design, look and feel. This phase is typically where the space becomes personalised and suited to your individual needs and requirements as led by your internal team or your design and build partner. This can be anything from furniture, wall coverings, partitions, doors, flooring, teapoints, canteens and soft furnishings. Cat B would be the most common form of fit-out for most relocation or refurbishment projects as it is the point at which the given space becomes your space and becomes suited to your requirements.
Some of the typical works you’d expect to be carried out in a Cat B fit-out are:
- Meeting and conference rooms
- Doors and partitioning
- Kitchens and breakout spaces
- Soft furnishings
- IT installations and infrastructure
- Brand detailing and design
Cat A & Cat B fit-outs
There are instances where a space you take on or occupy may need both Cat A and Cat B fit-outs; take one of Habit Actions projects for O’Connor Utilities Ltd in Stockport as an example. OCU ltd took on a 3 story office block which was extremely outdated and no longer fit for purpose. The space needed more than just a fresh coat of paint, in fact the space had to be stripped right back to the shell where we then completed a full Cat A and Cat B fit-out, drastically changing not only the internal design of the space but, the external aesthetic of the building as well. These types of projects are generally undergone when you have ownership of a building or space rather than a lease as it is yours to adapt and change according to your needs.