A Guide To Your Office Fit-Out


If you’ve found the ideal office space in the perfect location, you might be ready to transform this blank canvas into a functioning and welcoming workplace. But in order to do this, you need to go through the fit-out process.

But if you’re in this situation and you’re not actually sure what the fit-out process is or what it entails, we’re here to help.

We’ve created a guide to look at the definition of a fit-out and the different types, who carries these out and any fit-out restrictions or regulations you need to be aware of.

So let’s not delay any further; let’s get started with the guide.

What is the definition of an office fit-out?

You might have the bare bones of an office – that is an empty but structurally sound and complete property – but a fit-out is the process of making the office suitable and fit for purpose.

A fit-out comes in varying degrees depending on your needs and the state the office is already in.

For example, it could be a complete shell that needs new floors, ceilings, etc. or it could just need some personalisation such as partition walls, new lights and decorative touches.

But it’s worth noting that a fit-out is not to be confused with a refurbishment, which is simply the renovation or redecorating of certain aspects of an office or property.

What are the different types of fit-outs?

To get a better understanding of the different types of fit-out that might need to be done, these have been broken down into four different categories. These are:

Shell and core fit-outs

If you’ve bought some office space, whether you’re planning on using this yourself or leasing it out, it’s likely that you’ll need to do a shell and core fit-out.

Shell and core fit-outs tend to address potential structural issues. These can range from minor to major alterations such as:

  • Screeding floors
  • Plastering walls
  • Electrical rewiring
  • Installing central heating or air conditioning

Category A fit-outs

There isn’t a set list of tasks for a category A fit-out, but typically it will include alterations such as:

  • Raising floors
  • Putting in suspended ceilings
  • Finishing internal surfaces like flooring and wall painting

Category B fit-outs

A category B fit-out is essentially the stage that completes the office space. As such, it will generally include tasks such as:

  • Installing break out spaces and meeting rooms
  • Adding desks and furniture
  • Installing any specialist IT, audio-visual equipment and lighting
  • Branding and final decorative touches
  • In some cases, this might also include a full fit-out of kitchen and reception areas

Turnkey fit-outs

A turnkey fit-out is one that is arranged by the developer or landlord of the property to provide the tenant with a space that is already fitted out ready for use.

Therefore, this type of fit-out incorporates all the necessary work that needs to be done from core, category A and category B fit-outs and is often done by the same provider from start to finish.

Who carries out these fit-outs?

Depending on your requirements, the company that you use to do your fit-out will vary. However, you’re going to want a professional service provider that specialises in this area. In particular, they need to specialise in the type of fit-out that you need, whether that be shell and core, category A or category B.

You can shop around to find specialist providers in your area and find out which types of services they offer.

Are there any fit-out restrictions?

Finally, in the UK, commercial properties fall into different classifications and these are set out by the local authority.

So, for example, putting restrictions on what can be done means that no one can suddenly open a lively pub in the middle of a housing estate.

Essentially, these restrictions ensure that each building is being used appropriately.

However, with office space, there tends to be fewer special restrictions as it falls under the B1 classification. This means that generally, you won’t need to consult anyone before beginning a category A or B fit-out.

But if you are planning a core and shell or turnkey fit-out, you may need additional permissions, so it’s always best to check.

That being said, if these are internal alterations like partition walls, generally, these are fine and have no restrictions; it’s just structural or external changes that you may need to check out.