The difference between Cat A, Cat B & Cat A+ office fit outs | Soul Spaces

The difference between Cat A, Cat B & Cat A+ office fit outs

Updated: September 29th, 2023

Published: August 6, 2023

If you are soul-searching for the perfect business location or considering refurbishing your current workspace, you will likely encounter industry-specific terminology and confusing jargon along the way. Don’t worry; we’re here to help navigate you through it. 

Cat A? Cat B? Shell and Core? This article tells you everything you need to know about the various types of office fit out, including their differences, advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, we will help you determine which option is right for you.


What exactly is an office fit out? 


Generally, the term fit out describes turning space into a suitable office environment. 

Our definition of fit out is the process of transforming your interior space to align perfectly with your business’s vision and values, creating an inspiring, collaborative and productive working environment. 

Splendid New London Old Street Office Landscape


What are the different types of office fit out? 


There are four main classifications of office fit outs: Shell and Core, Cat A, Cat B, and Cat A+. The most common ones are Cat A and Cat B. “Cat” stands for category, and these terms categorise the fit out based on the different elements they include.


The difference between Cat A and Cat B summarised


A Cat A fit out offers an operational empty space, while Cat B includes all functional elements like meeting rooms, partitions and branded reception areas.

Little Moons London Farringdon Office Cat B Fit Out

Shell and Core: Blank Canvas


At the very beginning of the fit out spectrum, you will find Shell and Core. This type of fit out provides an entirely empty (unusable) space, resembling a blank canvas awaiting your creative touch. It lacks existing services or refurbishment, making it a starting point for a significant investment. 

Advantages of a Shell and Core fit out:

– Flexibility: Customise the space according to your specific requirements.

– Greater options: Allows for a broader range of custom mechanical and electrical solutions.

Disadvantages of a Shell and Core fit out:

– High investment: Requires substantial funding to complete the fit out.

– Time-consuming: Not as time-efficient compared to other fit out options.


Cat A: The Functional but Empty Space


Moving up from Shell and Core, Cat A fit outs provide a fully functional yet empty space. It includes basic installations and mechanical services such as ceilings, flooring, water, lighting, fire detection, heating and cooling. However, fixtures, fittings or partitions are not provided, making it not quite a fully operational working environment.

Advantages of a Cat A fit out:

– Flexibility: The space can be easily altered to suit your business’s evolving needs.

– Cost-effective: Requires less work and is cheaper for a contractor compared to other options.

Disadvantages of a Cat A fit out:

– Limited branding: The space may not reflect your company’s brand and ethos.

– Not immediately ready: It may not be ready for immediate work use.


Cat B: Crafting Productive Spaces


Cat B fit outs take it a step further by providing a finished space. Cat B fit outs come complete with all the elements from Cat A, but enhanced with a designed layout and installed internal partitions, meeting rooms, individual offices and reception areas. 

Furniture, branded materials and décor are also included for a fully operational and inspiring workspace. It is important to partner with the right team (hopefully Soul Spaces!) to ensure that all these aspects reflect your company’s brand, values and identity. 

Advantages of a Cat B fit out:

– Ready to use: The space is fully functional, allowing you to start working immediately.

– Optimal space planning: Cat B fit-outs apply the best possible space planning in advance.

– Enhanced work areas: Individual workspaces, break rooms and communal spaces are included.

Disadvantages of a Cat B fit out: 

– Higher costs: Cat B fit outs may incur higher costs compared to Cat A due to additional elements.

– Limited flexibility: Once completed, the space may have less flexibility for further alterations.

Check out these exciting recent Cat B projects we’ve accomplished:

Little Moons Farringdon Office 

Dr Doctor London South Bank Office 


Cat A+: The New Standard of Office Fit Outs 


The latest and most attractive offering in the market, Cat A+ fit outs target small businesses that may have struggled to fund their own refurbishments. It allows them to move into fully furnished and functioning ‘plug and play’ spaces, previously only available through co-working spaces.

Cat A+ fitouts include meeting rooms, breakout spaces, furniture, workstations, fitted kitchens, power, IT infrastructure and toilets. However, branding elements are usually not included, leaving the tenants to add their identity after moving in.

Advantages of a Cat A+ fit out:

– Instantly usable: Enjoy a fully functional office space from day one with minimal adjustments.

– Cost-efficient: Landlords typically cover the fit-out costs, saving you money on legal fees.

Disadvantages of a Cat A+ fit out:

– Limited branding: The responsibility falls on you to add elements that reflect your business’s identity.

Here is a recent Cat A+ projects we’ve completed for your inspiration: 

Akoya London Office Space 


Choosing the Right Fit Out Option for Your Business 


So, which office fit out is right for you? The answer depends on your business’s needs and goals:

– If you require flexibility and have existing furniture and fittings that you want to reuse, Cat A fit outs provide a blank canvas to work with.

– For businesses without existing furniture and fittings, Cat B fit outs allow you to create a space that reflects your brand and values while ensuring all your requirements are met.

– If cost-efficiency is a priority, consider a Cat A+ fit out. You get a fully functioning workspace immediately, enjoying the benefits of both Cat A and Cat B without additional costs and work.


Where do Soul Soul Spaces come in? 


At Soul Spaces, we want to help you through the entire journey, from searching for the perfect space that matches your business’s ambitions to the completion of the design and build of your unique, motivational, and functional workspace. 

Whether you’re just considering a move or already have a vision of your ideal workspace, we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch to find out more.

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