Published on:

09 October 2023

Updated on:

30 May 2024

Read time:

3 minutes

Katie Jarvis

Account Manager

Tom Parsons

Sales Director

When undertaking an office relocation or office refurbishment, you’ll likely encounter industry terminology like “Cat A” and “Cat B” fit outs. These terms are used to classify an office fit out based on the scope of work involved.

Transforming a raw interior space into a usable working environment ranges from installing basic facilities to creating bespoke layouts with breakout areas, meeting rooms, and workstations tailored to a business.

Cat A fit outs, which are generally commissioned by landlords, start from a more bare-bones shell and core, allowing more flexibility in layout and design.

For tenants, new office spaces are often provided as blank canvases, leaving it up to the tenants to fit out and finish the space to their needs through a Cat B fit out.

CAT A vs CAT B Comparision Graphic with Annotations

What is a Shell and Core office fit out?

Before examining Cat A and Cat B fit outs, it helps to understand shell and core building construction. Shell and core refers to the base structure of a property before any interior fit out occurs, including:

  • The core concrete and metal framework
  • Structural elements like columns and elevator shafts
  • External facade and weatherproofing
  • Initial utilities and plumbing

While the exterior may look finished, inside a shell and core space is essentially a bare construction site. There will be no lighting, flooring, or mechanical systems installed. Shell and core establishes the fundamental supports and bones of the property. The fit out process then builds upon this base structure to create customised interiors.

What is a Cat A office fit out?

A Cat A interior will provide the core services to make the space habitable. But the environment remains a bare-bones "blank canvas" at this stage.. A Cat A space alone won't have custom elements like kitchens, breakout areas, or meeting rooms. Additional work through a Cat B fit out is required to create a fully functioning office space.

What is included in a CAT A fit out?

While there's no industry standard, Cat A spaces typically contain:

  • Raised floors and suspended ceilings (with basic finish)
  • Basic mechanical, electrical, and HVAC services
  • Fire detection systems and smoke alarms
  • Minimal finishes on walls
  • Lighting, air conditioning, and bathrooms

While technically occupiable, Cat A delivers the bare minimum. It acts as a shell awaiting the specialised design and amenities needed for it to operate as a workplace.

What is a Cat A Plus fit out?

A Cat A Plus fit out sits between standard Cat A and Cat B. It's a "plug-and-play" office setup provided by landlords to attract tenants. Cat A Plus contains key amenities so tenants can occupy the space as-is. It allows landlords to lease move-in ready offices rather than requiring tenants to outfit it themselves via Cat B.

Cat A Plus offers functionality upfront. Tenants then incorporate branding and custom details to put their unique stamp on the space. It's a flexible plug-and-play starting point for incoming businesses.

What is typically included in a Cat A Plus fit out?

  • Partitioning for meeting rooms, breakouts, offices
  • Installed furniture and workstations
  • Fitted kitchen space
  • Bathrooms
  • Rerouted electrical and air conditioning

What is a Cat B office fit out?

A Cat B fit out builds upon a Cat A space to create a fully personalised, operational workplace aligned to the tenant's needs. Cat B involves fitting out the environment with office interior design elements. The extent of customisation can vary. But an ideal Cat B fit out is a workplace your employees love, that attracts talent, and aligns to your business ethos.

What is included in a CAT B fit out?

  • Office partitioning and doors
  • Custom flooring, lighting, and amenities
  • Installed kitchens, breakouts, cafes
  • Specialised furniture
  • Branding, art, decorative elements
  • Rerouted electrical, air conditioning, and IT as needed

The result is a turnkey office space requiring just staff and equipment to be moved in.

Drag to compare before and after.

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How Office Principles can support you

At Office Principles, our team of experts specialises in office fit outs from initial workplace consultancy through to project delivery. We partner with organisations to understand their work culture, operations and future goals, and translate these insights into office designs that empower employees and reflect the company ethos.

If you're planning an office move, refurbishment or fit out, contact our team to start envisioning your ideal workspace. Our strategic approach enables us to deliver inspiring offices where your team can thrive. We handle all aspects from concept to handover, creating workplaces built around your people.

Meet the Authors

An accomplished professional, with over 15 years’ experience, Katie is skilled at all aspects of project management, including the handling of relationships with clients and overseeing team activity. She’s involved from design concept through to final delivery and has knowledge of all facets of a project, allowing for a smooth process throughout.

A senior director and project director, Tom is a strong, focused leader who takes pride in motivating his team to deliver the best results. Having worked in the industry for almost 15 years, he has a keen insight as to the business needs of the client and what it will take for a project to successfully meet those needs.