What is Office Fit Out?

January 3, 2020 | Workplace

If you’re thinking about moving into a new office space or want to redesign your current workspace, then it’s important for you to know about office fit out.

Office fit out is a term to describe the process of making interior spaces suitable for occupancy.

The process of office fit out is enacted after base construction of a building has been completed by the developer. This base construction is referred to as shell and core. Shell and core denotes that the developer’s scope of work is only the design and construction of the base building. The building is complete, but the systems and services are yet to be installed. Usually, the final office fit out will be completed by a specialist firm at the direction of the occupant or tenant leasing the space in question.

Why invest in an office fit out?

Investing your time and money into a new or current workplace has the potential to increase the value of your company, and a well-planned office fit out will help you meet the future needs of your business.

A company’s office fit out project, if handled correctly, can have a major impact on employees, positively affecting well-being and productivity. Good office design also enhances your company’s image. A well-developed office shows organization and proficiency to everyone who enters the space.

More importantly, an effective office fit out articulates your company’s core values. It helps create a sense of identity. It spells out, “This is who we are.”

Depending upon the degree of construction completion and interior specifications required by an occupant, office fit outs can take a range of different forms.

Types of office fit out

There are two types of office fit outs:

Category A

Category A (Cat A) generally describes the level of fit out in the tenant’s space which has been completed by the developer.

There are no strict rules as to what this fit out will contain. It varies from project to project. However, following is a list of some general amenities one would typically expect to find in a Cat A fit out:

  • Raised floors
  • Suspended (grid) ceilings
  • Fire system
  • Lighting
  • Air conditioning
  • Internal surface finishes
  • Blinds

Should a tenant have complex or uncommon requirements for their workspace, they may need to make a contribution toward the costs. Making these specialized improvements during the construction phase will save time and money, as it’s much more expensive to modify a completed fit out.

Category B

Category B (Cat B) completes the fit out of the internal space to meet the tenant’s requirements. With the completion of the Cat A fit out, you are left with a blank canvas. Cat B fills in that canvas.

Here’s where you have the opportunity to create a space that perfectly matches your company’s culture. This type of project may include:

  • Final finishes and branding
  • Installation of offices
  • Installation of special spaces: meeting rooms, board rooms, conference rooms, etc.
  • Reception area fit out
  • Installation of special lighting
  • Installation of information communications technology (ICT) equipment
  • Installation of audiovisual equipment
  • Kitchen area fit out
  • Installation of furniture

Sometimes the developer has to ask a tenant to carry out some of the more sensitive Cat A work during the Cat B fit out. This may need to happen to ensure this more delicate work is less subject to damage. Should this be the case, the developer will pay the tenant an appropriate amount to cover the cost.

Turnkey developments

Turnkey means just that: a tenant simply turns the key, opens the door, and commences business in an office that’s fully fitted out and ready to use.

Projects such as these involve contracts with an outside firm to fully design, construct, and equip a business space and then turn over the project to the owner when it’s completely ready for operation.

There’s no set standard as to what a turnkey development will include—such a project will be unique to each individual design. It’s important to have a contract that spells out what work is to be done, who’s going to do the work, and a schedule of when and how the work will be completed.

Any agreement to lease office space between a landlord and tenant needs to clearly define the following:

  • What comprises the shell and core built by the developer.
  • What constitutes Cat A fit out installed by the tenant but is funded by the developer/landlord.
  • What tenant equipment is to be installed in common areas (such as generators, extras chillers, or uninterrupted power supply).

Consider hiring an expert to help

When you choose your office fit out, it’s best to seek expert advice and guidance. There are many professional project management and design companies available to see you through such a large undertaking. Professional help will ensure your project is completed on time and within your budget.

Here are a few things to consider when looking to hire a commercial fit out company:

  • Experience: A commercial fit out company should have a least 10 years of experience—and a good track record. Make sure they have some expertise in your field of business. Visit the sites of some of the office spaces they’ve worked on.
  • Accreditation: Always ask for copies of any paperwork that proves they’re certified to offer fit out services.
  • Insurance: A reliable fit out company will always have valid insurance. Make sure they have liability coverage. This will cover the cost of any damage to your property or any injuries to people that could occur during the fit out process.
  • Health & Safety: The health and safety of your employees should always be a top priority. Find out what measures they take to ensure the well-being of your employees while work is being done on your site.
  • Creativity: A good fit out company should be creative. Make sure they’re able to give you ideas, advice, and innovation when discussing the design of your space.

When considering taking on an office fit out project, there are so many things to juggle. However, with careful planning and the right professional help, deciding on a new fit out for your office may turn out to be one of the most rewarding decisions you make for the growth and welfare of your business.

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