Whether you’re looking for a tailor-made space designed to a high specification, right down to the final details, or a functional one ready for you to add the finishing touches, understanding cat a vs cat b fit out terminology is key.
At AXIS House, our highly skilled office design and fit-out experts use decades of industry experience to deliver cutting-edge, people-centric workplaces. From Cat A to Cat B fit outs, we’re on hand to help create the right space for you – but how are these design categories different and which is better for you?
What is a CAT A fit out?
There are no standard definitions for Cat A vs Cat B. Generally, though, a Cat A fit out is the next stage of office finish beyond a simple shell fit. Where a shell is just the structure and flooring of an office, a Cat A fit out includes all the main features of a functional office – excluding several branding, décor and aesthetic characteristics. For this reason, these fit outs are often called landlord fit outs.
A Cat A fit out specification will usually include:
- Raised floors
- Suspended ceilings
- Neutral finishes on walls and surfaces
- Key amenities, like electricity, lighting and heating
- Power sockets
- Lifts, toilets and fire detection systems
A Cat A fit out is like a blank canvas. With the fundamentals of your space installed, you can begin to use your new office as it is, or tailor it further based on your needs. These fit outs are commonly found in rented office spaces where new clients want to add their own features before landlords return them to Cat A spaces in between tenants. According to Savills, office occupants with large footprints prefer Cat A space, as they can use their teams to put their own stamp on the office.
What is a Cat A+ fit out?
Cat A+ fit outs sit between the functionality of Cat A and the tailored design of Cat B. This fit out can include individual offices, meeting rooms and kitchens, but remains neutral in decoration and lacks specific branding and décor. You could specify that you’d like x amount of desks, or a number of breakout areas to make the space fit your business’s needs, but would have the space decorated in a generic way. These models have become increasingly popular post-pandemic as businesses and individuals seek flexible office spaces with minimal investment.
What is a Cat B fit out?
Where a Cat A fit out creates a functional office space without décor, a Cat B fit out is a fully customised office space designed around the specific needs of organisations. Cat B fit outs frequently come with customised features, such as:
- Aesthetic designs – such as installing custom branded visuals. Have a look at Trehowans’ focused workspace or the elite expedition nerve centre of record-breaking mountaineer, Nimsdai
- Painted walls, surfaces and fixtures
- Office partitions, individual offices and meeting and communal rooms
- Kitchens – this open plan kitchen for Platinum Group is a nice example
- Cafés – like the one we installed at the Royal College of Psychiatrists Head Quarters
Why would a business choose a Cat B fit out? As JP Morgan Chase’s David Arena explained to McKinsey, a comfortable, bespoke office can make a significant difference.
[The] office has lots of reasons for being. The first and foremost is it’s a house for employees. It’s a house for people, it’s a house to bring clients to, to bring guests in, it’s a place to do business. It’s the manifestation of the brand in the physical environment.
These fit outs differ from Cat A fit outs by complementing and enhancing the working practices of businesses. You and your employees can enjoy a space that’s designed to a high spec and that reflects your working practices and culture. A Cat B fit out should be aligned with your business sector and company ethos, underscoring the need to find an office fitout expert who can deliver that for you.
Cat A vs Cat B: which is better for you?
Cat A and Cat B are two different stages of office design, with many rental offices switching between both categories depending on the needs of the tenant. If you’re considering moving into a new space and aren’t yet sure which fit out is right for your needs, it’s important to weigh up the advantages and shortcomings of each to come to a final decision. We can work with you to find the best option for your space and business.
If you’re looking for a fully customised office with tailored designs and decoration, opting for a Cat B fit is a better option. This version offers you a completely personalised office space that can meet the needs and enhance the performance of your organisation. This isn’t to say a Cat A fit out isn’t customisable – it simply means you’ll need to customise your space yourself.
There’s no standard pricing for Cat A and Cat B fit outs, but as Cat B offers more of a finished office, you can expect these to come with added costs compared to a Cat A fit. If your budget is a little restrictive, choosing a Cat A fit gives you a blank canvas and you may save costs building your own finalised design by hand. We offer our clients a pricing guide to help them understand how to balance their budget and wish list.
We’re on hand to help
At AXIS House, we’ve spent more than three decades delivering human-centric workplaces for our clients. Whether you need a Cat A or Cat B fit out, our highly skilled experts work closely with you to manage, design and build your space – exactly how you need it. We’re proud of our meticulous attention to detail that brings our clients’ visions to life, creating spaces that inject excitement and energy into their operations, promote agile working and support everyone’s wellbeing.