If you are in the process of moving your business to a new office location for the first time and wish to explore your fitout options, you are likely feeling overwhelmed by all of the different terminologies. For example, what is the difference between a Cat A, Cat B, and Cat C fitout? Is there an important distinction between all three? And which one is best suited to your needs, budget, and requirements?
In this article, we’re going to nose dive into the world of modern office fitout solutions, with a clear explanation of all three categories for your reference. If you were lost before, read on and you’ll learn everything that you need to know over the next few minutes…
What is a Cat A fitout?
So, what is a Cat A fitout? A Cat A fitout refers to the basic finishing of an interior space. This is the next step along in the fitout process from ‘shell & core’ (which as the name suggests, has the bare basics upon which an office can be built upon).
A Cat A fitout will typically include the essential mechanical and electrical services, including finished internal walls, a reception area, elevator lobbies, and so on. Other than that, Cat A is essentially a ‘blank canvas’ upon which you can build.
Cat A essentials:
- Lighting fixtures
- Air con and other utilities
- Raised flooring
- Grid ceilings
- Fire detection systems
What are the benefits of a Cat A fitout?
You might think that moving into an office that only has the bare essentials and has not been finished aesthetically is a disadvantage, however, there are some instances in which this can be a benefit for you.
For example, if you are a brand-new start-up with a relatively small team and an even smaller budget, starting off with a cheap office that you can add to and optimise according to your needs might be preferable.
A Cat A office fitout will have the essentials to start installing some furniture of your own and getting straight to work. That way, you can slowly transform it into the office of your dreams as your budget grows.
It’s not ideal, but for some small businesses, it’s the easiest way to get into a decent-sized space upon which they can grow whilst saving money as a new startup.
What is a Cat B fitout?
A Cat B fitout on the other hand refers to a workspace that is deemed fully operational and has been designed with the client’s unique specs in mind. This is when the Cat A finish is built upon, the spatial optimisation of the office is calculated, the various meeting rooms and individual offices are installed, the walls are decorated, the ceilings and finished, and every other critical aspect for a functional office is implemented.
Cat B essentials:
- Wall partitions and doors
- Floor finishing
- Specialist lighting
- Kitchen areas, break rooms, cafes, etc.
- Furniture installation
- Branded decorations and wall art.
What are the benefits of a Cat B fitout?
A Cat B fitout is ideal for businesses who have the budget available to move into an office space that has been designed to their specifications – and which is ready for immediate utilisation. Perhaps you’ll only need to make a few minor changes, adding some branding and a few spatial optimisation alterations. Either way, the office space will have been professionally designed and will be ready to accommodate all your requirements.
What is a Cat C fitout?
The Cat C fitout is one of the finest modern office fitout solutions available on the market today. Similar to Cat B, with a focus on sustainability – the ‘C’ stands for ‘circular’. However, Circular fitouts differ from Cat B because they do not include any brand-specific materials or décor.
The main purpose of the Circular fitout is so that, at the end of a lease term and if and when a business moves onto another location, there won’t be any need for the next business to excessively strip out the old installation in exchange for brand-new remodelling and renovations.
Essentially, a Cat C fitout is a ‘done for you’ / ‘business in a box’ office that is ready to move into and utilise immediately without any delay (and indeed without the need to keep stripping and replacing raw materials).
The landlord will source sustainable materials and fit out the office space with a mind towards the long-term environmental impacts (and method of installation). Not only that, but Cat C fitouts should be constructed in such a way that they are easy to dismantle and re-optimise when a turnover period occurs.
What are the benefits of a Cat C fitout?
A Cat C fitout is perfect for businesses that are conscious about the environment and wish to have as little impact as possible. By opting for Cat C you will be choosing a ‘ready-made’ office space that can accommodate all of your needs without having been built from the ground up to meet your specific design ideas.
Unless you have very brand-specific ideas and expectations about how you want your office to look, a Cat C fitout will typically provide everything that you could possibly want from an office space. Not only that, but the fact that they are designed and built with the ‘circular’ principle in mind, it will be easy enough to optimise the space to suit your needs without having to excessively strip and replace anything.
Which fitout category is best suited to your needs?
Ultimately, it all comes down to your budget and business needs. If the Cat B fitout costs are not in your budget right now, a ‘ready-made’ Cat C might be more suitable.
Certainly, Cat B is preferable for many businesses that have very specific expectations for their office space. However, there are some excellent Cat C options as they are designed to be a ‘one-size-accommodates-all’ fitout.
Otherwise, if you are completely starting from scratch and wish to have a blank canvas office upon which you can slowly build upon as your business grows and evolves, then a Cat A might be better suited to your situation.