Differences Between An Office Refurbishment, Office Fit Out and Design and Build?

It may seem very obvious however an office refurbishment is sometimes confused with an office fit out and design and build. Very often these terms are used interchangeably; however the purpose of each and how they are carried out can be very different. In this article we look at what an office refurbishment, office fit out and design and build are to address the many questions asked when we are approached to carry out a Kent or London office refurbishment.

Office Fit Out

An office fit out is the term used to describe the renovation or transformation required to make a building suitable for occupation. This can include anything to enable the space to be used and to ensure it’s safe for business purposes.

An office fit out should be viewed as the preparation stage which helps to prepare the blank canvas that will go onto become the fully refurbished office. It’s important to note that office fit outs don’t always include the actual office layout.

There are different types of office fit out including Shell and Core and Category A and B:

Shell and Core

The shell and core refers to the preparation and transformation of the concrete structure of the building’s space through the addition of structural work like cladding, staircases, lift shafts and mezzanine floors. The building structure has already been built so the shell and core simply prepares the building space by adding basic mechanical and electrical elements.

Category A

Category A or Cat A is the next step on from shell and core.

Cat A offers the next level of finish and includes the addition of more complex mechanical and electrical work as well as elements like mezzanine floors, suspended ceilings, basic lighting, washrooms and toilets, heating, ventilation and air conditioning; electrical and data cabling, fire detection and alarm systems, plaster and finish walls with basic decoration and carpentry including skirtings, mouldings, basic staircase balustrades and door installations. Once Cat A is complete the space is ready to be fully personalised, decorated and furnished.

Category B

Category B or Cat B is the final step in personalising, decorating and furnishing an office space and is seen as the closest type of fit out to a refurbishment and may be why office fit outs can be confused with office refurbishments.

A Cat B fit includes personalised office design from staircase finishes or alterations; office partitioning, flooring, designer lighting and ceiling finishes; kitchen and tea point installations; creation of individual workstations, booths and breakout areas; office furniture, storage and accessories; interior décor and statement design, such as planting wallsgraffiti and wall coverings;  IT installation and data cabling modifications; modifications to the HVAC and fire alarm to facilitate for the new design and layout; signage and branding and reception area design and fit out and smaller details like fabrics and furnishings to complete the look and feel of the office space.

It’s important to note that there is sometimes some crossover between shell and core and Cat A and between Cat A and Cat B. Sometimes shell and core will be fitted out to Cat A standards and sometimes there is a crossover of the works completed for category A and B fit outs. This is especially true when it comes to shared workspaces, where tenants are sharing a kitchen and teapoints, washrooms and meeting rooms.

Office Refurbishment

An office refurbishment refers to the refurbishing or renovating of an office space that has been refurbished or fitted out in the past and typically covers a site survey, office design, defining a budget, a programme of work, construction and handover. It usually includes partitioning, suspended ceilings, flooring, windows, upgrade or reinstallation of washrooms and toilet facilities, implementation of kitchen areas or tea points, break out areas, meeting spaces and furniture.

A refurbishment can be big or small from looking to change your office layout to making more efficient use of your office space to completely rebranding and changing the space to personalise it to meet your business needs. Ultimately an office refurbishment can transform the way a business can operate and allows them to make an office space work for them.

Design and Build

Traditionally preparing an office for habitation would involve working with a number of different office fit out specialists who would take care of different parts of the office fit out or refurbishment. The standard path usually followed a design, bid and build process. The design phase would be carried out to produce designs. The project would then be opened up to bids from contractors to fulfil the requirements set out in the design documents. Now the design and build approach is becoming more popular.

In the case of design and build one company manages all elements of the project including a visit to the site, measuring up the available space, design, project planning and management and build services in a single contract. By having just one company with all the requisite skill sets responsible for all of the work to be carried out, your project will be more streamlined and the result is likely to be a more efficiently managed office fit out.

In Summary

A fit out is the process of transforming the shell of a building and making it into a habitable office space. Refurbishment is taking an office space which has already been used and redesigning and changing it to meet the business needs of a new or current occupant. Design and build is the term used to describe the process by which one company is contracted to design and construct (build) the complete office fit out as opposed to the traditional office fit out route where one company or person undertakes the design phase and then a different person or company is appointed to carry out the build phase.

How Can JBH Refurbishments Help?

JBH Refurbishments have over 30 years experience in design and build, office refurbishments and fit outs and can provide the relevant expertise depending on your project requirements. From your project brief, to putting together a project plan, to developing your office design and layout to delivering your office fit out JBH Refurbishments will provide piece of mind. You can contact us on 0333 207 0339 or via our contact page today for a free on site consultation.


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