Fit out of buildings
‘Fit out’ is a term used to describe the process of making interior spaces suitable for occupation. It is often used in relation to office developments, where the base construction is completed by the developer, and the final fit out by the occupant. The occupant will generally be leasing space as a tenant from the developer / landlord.
Shell and core works will generally comprise the structure, cladding, base plant, completed common areas and external works. It will include fitted-out main reception, lobbies, staircases, toilets, lift shafts, basements, loading bays, car parking and so on.
 Category A fit-out
- Raised floors and suspended ceilings.
- Distribution of mechanical and electrical services.
- Internal surface finishes.
If the tenant has very complex fit out requirements, this may impact on the category A fit out. In this case, they may make a contribution to the costs of the category A fit out to ensure that it meets their needs, and offset this against their own costs. This saves wasted time and money modifying the category A fit out.
 Category B fit-out
Category B completes the fit out of the internal space to the tenants requirements. This may include:
- Final finishes and branding.
- Installation of offices.
- Installation of specialist facilities in meeting rooms, board rooms conference rooms and so on.
- Fitting out reception areas.
- Installation of specialist lighting.
- Installation of ICT equipment.
- Installation of audio visual equipment.
- Fit out of kitchen areas.
- Installation of furniture.
The developer may make ask the tenant to carry out some of their more sensitive category A works on their behalf during the category B fit out, when they may be less subject to damage. The developer will pay the tenant a sum equivalent to the cost of the works had they carried them out themselves.
These categories do not have standard definitions, and so it is very important that contract documentation sets out precisely what work is to be carried out and by who, rather than relying on ambiguous short-hand terms.
An agreement to lease between landlord and tenant should clearly define:
- What comprises the shell and core built by the developer, including space provision in common areas for tenant equipment such as standby generators, extra chillers, or uninterrupted power supply plant.
- What constitutes category A fit out installed by the tenant but funded by the developer/landlord.
- What tenant equipment is to be installed in common areas.
A rent-free period may be provided by the landlord as a notional contribution to the tenant’s fit out. It not unusual for a tenant to start fitting out their areas before completion of the shell and core works, although the rent-free period will be triggered by practical completion of the shell and core works.
The tenant’s fit out may involve rectifying problems in the developer's works. In order to meet the fit-out timetable these may be funded by the tenant who may then make a claim to recover their costs.
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