8th September 2021

What is Design and Build London, Cat A and Cat B Fit-Outs?

What is Design and Build London, Cat A and Cat B Fit-Outs? Cover Image

What is Design and Build London, Cat A and Cat B Fit-Outs?

Are you considering an office design and build service but feeling a bit baffled by where to start? With so many options of companies in London alone, the office design and build marketplace is becoming busier. With more options come more opportunities to be confused, more TLAs (three letter acronyms) and more choices to be made!

Why such an explosion in this market? Property markets across the country, but particularly in London, have stagnated as prices have forced many moves for businesses off the cards. Commercial lets are therefore being extended or exchanged and businesses are being forced to develop what they have rather than changing to alternative locations. With the expectation that property will become stagnated until the Brexit negotiations are well on their way towards a common agreement and businesses are feeling more secure, the option to fit out existing space, to ask commercial landlords to dig deep for a refurb or to redesign existing workspaces are becoming the more likely reality for businesses.

Design and Build London and all the different iterations of the ‘Re-Fit’

An office fit-out is the start to finish workflow of preparing an internal space in a commercial building for use as an office. The process takes a building from concrete shell to completed office including all the required services from toilets and water to HVAC (air conditioning) to Wi-Fi, offices to board rooms, hot desks to reception areas.

When a complete redesign is planned in an existing workspace, we often need to take the building back to the original concrete shell appearance. This level of strip out- or when a building is brand new, is known as a Cat A fit out. The new build in this presentation is also often referred to as a Shell and Core. When a building is taken on by a tenant in a Cat A situation and they are looking to turn the shell into a suitable workspace, the process is referred to as a Cat B fit-out.

Shell and Core Fit Out

A shell and core fit out of a shared office space, where a number of businesses use communal facilities such as toilets, kitchens and a reception area, means that the incoming tenant will sign for a building that is complete to building regulations on the outside, but the inside will resemble a (tidy) building site with bare walls, concrete floors and walls but little else. In this situation, the shared facilities are usually completed to a high specification with toilets and basins, reception desks, interconnecting corridors, doors, floor and wall coverings all in place. If the building is for sole occupancy, it is likely that all areas are at the construction site point leaving the opportunity for a complete design to individual specifications of everything involved in the building.

Cat A Fit Out

A Cat A Fit Out is at a similar stage of development as the Shell and Core, but with the fundamental elements of the building also in place; suspended ceilings, lighting, HVAC for the air conditioning and ventilation, potential suspended floors, basic electrical systems and some health and safety basics such as fire and security alarm systems.

Taking on a Cat A office provides the tenant with a blank canvas for your interior designer to wave their magic wand- or to allow us to develop a suitable design that works exactly to your requirements and specification within a set budget!

Cat B Fit Out

This specification of fit out would enable a company to move straight into the space and to start work. The amount of work involved in a Cat B fit-out should not be underestimated. However, to ensure that the building works perfectly to your specification, it is vital to provide your design and build agency with as much information as possible on the type of work, the number of employees, preferences and needs as possible. We schedule time into the planning stage to ensure that all stakeholders are consulted with at the earliest possible point of the process. If you have a facilities or buildings manager within your team, as well as team leaders, they are often the people to delegate the minutiae discussions to. They are the ones who know most about the needs of the team and will know and communicate information that a director or business owner may have no idea about. At this discussion, we will create a plan of how many workstations, shared spaces, communal spaces, individual offices and other desks are required, where the reception will be and consider the process flow of your individual business requirements.

Creating a unique Cat B fit-out does provide you with the opportunity to really project your core values, mission and company ethos on the design. We can work within brand guidelines of colour, style, font and value set. Do you recall the Google office visuals that smashed through the grey-suited barrier of office design a decade ago? With slides and ball pools, gravity chairs and the great granddad to the fidget spinning fixed to the walls? Google had the motto, ‘Don’t be evil’ when these offices were launched. The Do No Evil Manifesto, as it was so called, continued; “We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short-term gains.” They created something completely new and dynamic, their offices were talked about all over the globe. And now their brand name has taken over an action, moreover has become a verb. We no longer search for the solution to an issue. We simply Google-it. Perhaps being revolutionary in office design could be the catalyst to that success!

Creating a design and build for your office that truly reflects your company, is super comfortable for your employees and encourages the most productive work from your teams will not only attract the best-suited customers to your vacancies but will increase employee satisfaction and decrease employee turnover. With loyal, happy staff and a beautifully designed workspace, how could your business not succeed??!

If you require support or an understanding of costs related to any office fit out, Cat A fit-out, Cat B fit-out or design and build London, please contact us and we will be in touch shortly. It is always best to seek advice on a commercial property let ahead of signing heads of terms. Understanding what happens at the end of the lease is almost as important as the requirements of the landlord at the start. Engaging a contractor early in the process will allow us to help you without the emotional attachment of this being our new work-home. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes is worth being cast over a project.