What is the difference between Cat A works and Cat B works?

If you’re considering an office fit-out, perhaps out of a desire to make your workplace more purposeful and bring wellbeing nearer the forefront, you might have heard the terms “Cat A” and “Cat B” but remain unsure exactly what they mean.

In both instances, “Cat” stands for “Category”, and whether you should opt for a Cat A or Cat B fit-out will depend on your budget and preferences.

Is “category” a strictly technical term here?

It’s probably worth emphasising that there’s no entirely simple definition of what constitutes either a Category A fit-out or a Category B alternative. The Building website explains: “There is no standard definition for Category A fit-out – it can vary between the different developers.”

The site implies that the same applies for Category B fit-outs, as it lists only what such a project “can typically comprise”. Still, it’s possible to discern general differences between Cat A and Cat B fit-outs.

Cat A: it’s about getting the essentials in place

Given that a fit-out can be simply defined as, in the words of a article, “the preparation of an internal space for its occupants”, you could be surprised to see just how many stages this process can comprise. However, it all starts with an empty shell…

Yes, that shell refers to the physical building itself – and completing that property’s exterior is part of what is called a “shell and core” fit-out, which also involves adding minimal finishing to the interiors, if typically only the walls and ceilings. A Cat A project, however, would be the next stage…

Usually, the building’s landlord, property developer or investor will take care of the Cat A fit-out, which will involve equipping the space with what it needs to meet the end-user’s specific requirements. However, a fit-out partner like Maris Interiors can also help with the task.

Items typically added to office spaces through Cat A fit-outs include raised floors and lights, suspended ceilings and heating systems – in other words, essentials. With these, it would be practically possible for the client to use the space, but it would remain largely a blank canvas.

Adding more colour to a space with a Cat B project

It’s with a Cat B fit-out that things get more creative, as this is where the space will be arranged in such a way as to more specifically satisfy the future occupants’ requirements. For example, it will be decided how much space will be needed for the workstations, meeting rooms and breakout areas.

At the Cat A stage, the developer might make a contribution to the tenant for funding carpets and floor boxes, but these will not be physically fitted until the Cat B phase. Otherwise, it could be realised too late that these elements are not in line with the tenant’s colour scheme.

The level of fit you should choose in the “Cat A vs Cat B” dispute can, as Photo Genie explains, be affected by how much of the work you would like to do yourself.