What Is A Fit-Out?

  November 27, 2023      Construction, Offices

A fit-out, whether it’s for an office, warehouse, retail space, restaurant, or any other commercial building refers to making the inside of the building fit for purpose. Prior to having a fit-out done, most commercial spaces are just a shell of a building. Often called a “white box,” a commercial building prior to getting a fit out is empty with no fixtures or fittings in it and usually just basic white paint. The process of doing a fit-out adds everything to the inside of building that’s needed for a business to operate in it.

Although a commercial fit-out isn’t difficult for an experienced building company, the process can be complicated and even lengthy for larger projects. So let’s look at fit-outs in more depth to better understand the process.

Commercial Base Buildings Are A Blank Slate

Generally speaking, at the end of a commercial lease the old tenant completes what is called a make good to bring the building back to the condition that it was in prior to them occupying it. This make good (sometimes called a defit) usually gets the premises back to the base building: basic white paint, bare flooring, removal of any internal walls or partitions, removal of any fixtures and fittings, etc. What’s left after the defit is an empty building or “white box.”

Although the building itself is sound, it’s hardly fit for commercial occupation. The building itself will conform to any government regulations as a building, but it may not conform to regulations to actually be used as an office space, restaurant, shop, etc.

It’s up to the tenant to make the space their own.

A Tenant Can Add Anything They Want To Their Fit-Out

Although the building’s landlord may have a few limitations on what the tenant can do to the it, anything can be added to the shell building as part of a fit-out, and fit-outs vary depending on what the building is being used for.

Office and shop fit-outs are common, but even a big space like a warehouse needs a fit-out. This may include organising areas for equipment as well as installing pallet racking and shelving. Other facilities may need cool storage for their products, this would be part of the fit-out.

A typical fit-out, regardless of what type of building is receiving the fit-out would likely include things like custom lighting, painting, floor coverings, ceiling coverings (including suspended ceilings), and all fixtures and fittings. While the base building may have amenities like toilets and kitchens installed, they would likely be basic and may need to be modified.

It’s also during the fit-out project that the building becomes fit for purpose and compliant with any laws and regulations. This would mean that the fit-out includes installing any fire safety equipment, complying with occupational health and safety, and any cleanliness and hygiene requirements.

And of course, once the building work is done, a fit-out also includes any furniture that is required for the business. For an office fit-out, this would obviously include the installation of desks, the reception area, break out areas, and meeting rooms. For a retail space this may include installing product shelving, furnishing the break room, and setting up the point of sale system.

A fit-out takes a blank, empty building and turns it into something ready to do business from.

Types Of Fit-Outs

Fit-outs can range in size and scope. Although a full fit-out generally starts with a base building, some base buildings have more to them than others, so less work is required for things like wall and floor coverings. It’s also important to note that there is a difference between a fit-out and a refurbishment, however the line between the two can be blurry.

Hard Fit-Out/Category A Fit-Out

Sometimes called a hard fit-out, category A fit-outs usually deals with the basics of making the building fit to occupy. This would include things like getting the flooring, walls, and ceilings done, installing utilities, HVAC, fire safety, amenities, etc.

The level of work needed for a category A fit-out will vary depending on the condition of the base building. As mentioned, some base buildings may have suitable floor and wall coverings, so this may not need to be changed. Some based buildings may already have great amenities, so those won’t need to be installed. It can vary.

While some businesses just need a hard fit-out, others will continue the project and start their soft fit-out after the big things are done.

Soft Fit-Out/Category B Fit-Out

With the building now suitable for occupation, it now needs to be fit for use.

A category B fit-out (sometimes called a soft fit-out) gets things like furniture installed as well as dealing with the aesthetics of the building. A business may choose to work with an interior designer to get the building looking the way they want it, or it may be as simple as relocating office furniture from an old location to the new one.

Like category A fit-outs, category B fit-outs can vary in size and scope, depending on what the building is being used for and the needs of the business. Also like category A fit-outs, category B fit-outs are often part of a larger project of bringing a building from a shell up to something that can be used by a business.

What To Consider When Planning A New Fit-Out

There’s quite a lot to consider when planning a fit-out of your new building. Every fit-out is different, even for businesses in the same industry with a similar space. Everybody’s needs and tastes are different, so that will affect the fit-out project as well.

When first starting to plan a fit-out, there are some things to make sure you do from the start.

Get a detailed quote. In this quote, you should make sure you understand exactly what is and is not included in the project. It’s usually a good idea to make sure the quote at least includes the design, project management, materials, and actual fit-out construction. Some projects may require permits, and it’s important to clarify who will be responsible for this. It’s also important to note that some fit-outs may change the building’s purpose of use, which will require further town planning permits. For example, if you’re doing a restaurant fit-out in a former retail space. Experts can help with this, and make sure you know who’s responsible for finding out.

Consider your brand and positioning. It’s important that your brand is taken into account when planning and designing your new fit-out, this way you can incorporate any brand colours as needed as well as consider how you want your business to look from the outside.

Make sure your utilities are correct. All of your utilities, including internet, need to be suitable for the business you’ll be doing. Speak with your landlord to understand who is responsible for these things.

Plan for legal and compliance issues. While partnering with a specialist fit-out company will ensure your new premises is suitable for safety and most other legal compliance concerns, your business may have regulations unique to the industry. Communicate this with your fit-out company and make sure it’s planned for.

Ultimately, it’s easiest to use a single company to do an entire project, and that’s where A1 Precision Solutions come in. If you’re in need of a fit-out for your office, warehouse, shop, or anything else, feel free to contact us.