Time to spruce up your workspace? Here’s what you need to know about fit-out projects, says Mitchell Broughton.
What is a fit-out?
It’s the process of making an interior space suitable for occupation. It’s the electrical, mechanical, decorating and furnishing undertaken by the tenant that is leasing the space from the developer or landlord.
Types of fit-outs
There are a couple types of fit-outs to be considered, when deciding what needs to be done to your space.
- Shell and core fit-outs: Shell and core fit-outs are the first step and precede any other process.
In every construction project where a new structure is being erected, the first and most important thing to be built is the fundamental base or structure, known as the ‘shell’ or base build. This shell will include the framework and foundation of the building as well as vital services, such as water, gas and electricity.
Other than the basics of the building, a shell and core fit-out will often include suspended ceilings, flooring, wall coverings, partitions and lighting. Many will want this type of fit-out, even though in most cases this will already have been done before purchasing. It is popular with tenants who want an architectural say.
After this process comes either a category A or B fit-out.
- Category A fit-out: Includes the basic finishing of an interior space and involves:
- Raising floors and suspending ceilings;
- Basic mechanical and electrical services;
- Fire detection and protection services;
- Internal surface finishes; and
- Blinds and more.
These will generally be commissioned by the landlord.
Apart from its most basic working elements, a category A space will be completely empty, making it easy to sell to occupants who want to create their own space.
- Category B fit-out: Conducted on a space where the external walls and basic flooring, ceilings, mechanical and electrical services and shared toilets and lifts have already been installed. It’s the third step to the process, where the tenant can usually have a lot of say in the final decor. This includes:
- Finishes and branding;
- Meeting rooms;
- Conference rooms and breakout rooms;
- Reception areas;
- Kitchen facilities;
- IT and audiovisual equipment; and
- Office furniture and more.
It ranges from building different rooms to choosing the art on the walls; this is where the space comes to life.
Category A is the blank canvas and category B is the finished work of art.
How much does a fit-out cost?
This largely depends on the size and scale of the space and the difficulty of the project.
The price range for an office or commercial space fit-out could vary between:
- £40 to £60 per square foot (£430 – £640 per square metre) for a basic specification;
- £60 to £80 psf for a mid-range scheme;
- £80 to £100 psf for a high-quality project; and
- £120-plus for projects with outstanding design and quality.
Prices will depend on whether you are having one of the three processes done or all of the above. For an office, usually all three are recommended.
Project costs will vary depending on a multitude of factors with the major influences being location, timescales, type of building, refurbishment or relocation, innovations, scope and complexity of works, client procurement method (for example, traditional versus design and build) and many more.
There is a lot to know about fit-outs: the different types, categories and cost factors can be very overwhelming. The different fit-out types can lead to a ‘grey area’ with costing, as no costs are fixed because of the long list of dependable factors. If you are looking for an exact price for your space, the best way to get an accurate idea is to get a quote from a professional fit-out supplier.
Mitchell Broughton is contracts director at commercial building projects and fit-out specialist eden London