Do You Know Your Cat A From Your Cat B
We’re going to delve a little deeper into the meaning of two terms that you’re very likely to come across during any office refit: Cat A and Cat B. As you can see, the two terms don’t reveal much by themselves, so we’re going to take a little time unpacking them. By the end of this article, you should have a complete understanding of both.
An Introduction To Fit-Outs
Construction professionals will frequently use the phrase “fit-out” to describe the process of transforming the outer shell of a building into something that is suitable to use as an office. An office fit-out company begins with an empty shell — literally a concrete and steel cube — and then adds embellishments and features to transform it into a viable place of work. During a fit-out, construction workers might add things such as raised flooring (to differentiate one section of the office from another), staff toilets, partitions, shared spaces, office cubicles, lighting, and anything else that you might need for a productive workplace.
The “shell” and the “core” of a building refers to the most basic elements of building design — think pure concrete flooring, breeze-block walls, and rafters crisscrossing the ceiling. At the “shell and core” stage, the building can look complete from the outside, but on the interior, it’s a blank canvas, waiting for a company fill in whatever way they like. It’s not possible to work in this environment.
What Is A Cat A Fit-out?
You can think of a Cat A fit-out as the next level above “shell and core.” A Cat A fit-out provides a basic level of finish, offering things such as a smooth, level floor, fittings for lighting, raised flooring to demarcate different office spaces, and primary electrical outlets (for, say, computer terminals). A Cat A fit-out provides the essential background fixtures and fittings you need to layer your office on top, but it is not ready for use immediately.
Cat A fit-outs are completed to an industrial standard. They’re clean and bright, but do not contain any design embellishments that might indicate that you are standing in the office of a particular company. Cat A fit-outs are basic, feature a neutral colour palette, and provide only the bare essentials that you need to conduct your operations. With a Cat A fit-out, you are likely to get things such as air conditioning and ventilation system, fire detection and smoke alarms, and suspended ceilings with a basic finish.
What Is A Cat B Fit-out?
A Cat B fit-out is the type of fit-out that most people imagine when they think about a new office fit-out. A Cat B fit-out yields a working office that staff can move into immediately, providing all necessary fixtures and fittings down to the smallest detail.
During a Cat B fit-out, it is typical to consult with a range of contractors about all of the stylistic elements, from architects to office designers to property consultants. Not only will you focus on the design and theme of the office, but how to create a space that will maximise worker wellbeing and productivity. You will consult with professionals about things such as layout, shared spaces, private working environments, temperature and lighting control, and fire and safety.
Cat B fit-outs provide your office with the facilities that it needs to be transformed into a living, breathing space. Cat B fit-outs will install kitchens and bathrooms, all workstations and furniture, and put your IT infrastructure in place.
It is important to note what a Cat B fit-out is not. A Cat B fit-out refers to a fit-out in a new space that has not previously played host to an office. Cat B fit-outs are not the same as refurbishments. Office refurbishment refers to the process of updating a space in which there is already an office. A Cat B fit-out, by contrast, is the process of installing a new office in a space that has never been an office in the past. A Cat B fit-out can follow a Cat A fit-out, but not the other way around.
You may sometimes hear the term “Cat B refurbishment” being used. Do not confuse a Cat B refurbishment with a Cat B fit-out. A Cat B fit-out involves taking the shell and core and transforming it into a usable office space while a Cat B refurbishment refers to the process of redoing the design, fixtures, and fittings of an existing office so that it is suitable for a new company. Again, the difference between a fit-out and a refurbishment is that a fit-out occurs in a space that has never been used by an office before, whereas a refurbishment happens in an area that has.
Which Type Of Fit-out Do You Need?
Before moving into any new office space, it’s important to recognise that you need a Cat B fit-out if you plan on using the space. A Cat A fit-out is essentially for the building managers so that they can offer their tenants a blank canvas to work on before they move in.
If you perform a Cat B fit-out, then your landlord may require you to return your offices to Cat A standard if and when you eventually move out. This is worth bearing in mind. Cat B fit-outs should be carefully layered on top of the Cat A finish so that you can return to Cat A at the required time in the future.
So, now you know your Cat A from your Cat B, and that this isn’t about feline creatures, it’s time for you to start fitting out your office. If you are ready to get started then get in touch with Jackdaw to see how we can help you.