Cat A, Cat A+ & Cat B Fit-Outs

Cat A, Cat A+ & Cat B Fit-Outs

Senior Project Manager, Elise Brooks, speaks on the differences between the variations of Category (CAT) Fit-Outs and provides her expert opinion on how Covid has influenced the market.

What is a Fit-Out?

A fit out is the development of a space with the purpose of aligning its functionality with the requirements of the people who use it: it’s making sure a space does what its occupants – or owners – need it to do. Different types of fit outs reflect stages in a building’s completion.


What is Shell and Core?

Shell and Core refers to the concrete and metal frame of a weather-proofed space and is considered the first stage of a building’s fit out. The building’s services including lighting, air conditioning, etc, may not installed allowing the occupier and their chosen fit-out partner to tailor as required.

The Landlord will complete communal areas which may include receptions, lobbies, lifts and stairwells.


What is a Category A Fit-Out?

CAT A Fit-Out refers to a functioning space leased by a landlord.  The property is provided to a basic level of finish above that provided in a Shell and Core. This may include lighting, heating, raised flooring and a suspended ceiling, however, design aspects and installation of finishes are to be completed by the tenants.  Cat A offers a blank canvas with flexibility for the tenant to create a space and finish in line with their company brand specifications.


What is a Category B Fit- Out 

There can be a variety of different standards of a Cat B fit out, depending on what you negotiate.

A ‘Full’ CAT B Fit-Out follows on from where CAT A finishes and refers to a fully-fitted property tailored, including design and brand detailing, to the needs of the business occupying the space. The property is provided ready to work in and may include a variation of workstations, breakout areas, meeting rooms, kitted kitchens, furniture and IT installations.  Space Planning and Workplace Assessments are required before the design stage to ensure the space is devised in a productive manner fitting to the company and its employees.


What is a Category A+ Fit-Out?

Category A+ Fit-Outs or ‘Flex Spaces’ sit between the CAT A and CAT B definitions. They refer to a space finished to a generic level, appealing to both landlords and tenants that want a more flexible workplace solution. They may include fitted kitchens, furniture, workspaces, meeting rooms, IT installations and breakout spaces.  CAT A+ Fit-Outs allow tenants to move into fully functioning spaces ready to work in but are not tailored specifically to the businesses needs or its branding.


Market Commentary

Before COVID-19, the ‘Flex’ market continued to grow and take a greater share of the corporate real estate market.  Corporate requirements below 5,000 sq  ft areas are increasingly going to flex operators with a typical size of ‘traditional’ lettings increasing year on year.  This is certainly reflected in the Operational Services workload where a snapshot across current instructions right now sees a heavy proportion of work coming from flex operators and a large corporate fit out.

Many commentators agree that the flex workspace sector is likely to be one of the first to bounce back in a ‘post-Covid-19’ real estate world - partially due to reduced footprints following a successful enforced work-from-home policy.  This may even increase market shares as Corporates become unwilling to take traditional leases and continue to look for more flexible leasing arrangements.  The main indicator of this is the average size of traditional lease transactions, in terms of floor area, which will increase when some form of market ‘norm’ returns. Flex workspace provides practically, a workspace to suit all business sizes, and flex working offers social opportunities and human interaction.

The effects of the pandemic have been twofold: while the industry has suffered negative effects, the want for flexibility and human interactions has increased with many viewing flexible office space as a key element of their future real estate strategies.

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