- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 21 Mar 2018
Shell and core
The concept of shell and core (or base build) is that the developer's scope of works is the design and construction of the base building. A range of other construction and fit out works are left to be completed before the building is occupied.
The concept originated in the USA where it was applied to office buildings built by developers for rent. American developers initially fitted out offices, installing access floors, carpet tiles, ceilings, air conditioning and lighting on the basis of a notional layout for prospective tenants.
However, the actual tenant's ideas often differed from the developer’s notional layouts and so money was wasted taking down ceilings and taking up floors, while mechanical and electrical services had to be altered to accommodate partition layouts.
Rosehaugh/Stanhope introduced a similar idea in the UK in its ground-breaking Broadgate development in the City of London. Broadgate office buildings were specifically designed for the financial markets following deregulation. Rosehaugh/Stanhope did not supply ceiling tiles, carpet tiles etc, but allocated its tenants a rent-free period and an allowance for the landlord's notional fitting out.
This became known in lease arrangements as a category A fit out allowance. Following the lead of Broadgate in the eighties, agents in the chartered surveying world accepted that rents were not affected by the principles of shell and core and it became widespread in the office commercial market.
For more information, see Advantages of shell and core.
- 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.
- Roads, paths, pavements, external lighting, security systems, fencing and boundary walls, drainage systems, incoming services, hard and soft landscaping, signage and all statutory requirements relevant to the site.
- Foundations and fire clad structure with column grid and clear structural floor heights defined.
- Building envelope, including insulation, external walls, glazing, balustrade and roofs.
- Completely finished circulation and common areas including main reception, lobbies, staircases, toilets, plant rooms, riser shafts, lift shafts, basements, loading bays and car parking. Fire compartmentation should also be part of the shell and core provision.
- All base plant, mechanical and electrical systems to plant rooms and services in shafts with air capped off by a fire damper to each tenant leased zone, electrical services connected to tenant’s zone switch panels and water and sprinkler services taken to each tenancy where they are capped off. Base plant will generally include :
- High and low voltage switchgear.
- Lift systems.
- A standby generator.
- Cooling towers.
- Water and fuel tanks.
- Sprinkler plant.
- Building control systems.
- Air conditioning chambers and fans.
- Water and fuel pumps.
- Dry risers.
- Fire detection, alarm and hose reel systems.
It not unusual for a tenant to start fitting out their demised areas prior to the completion of the landlord shell and core works, although the rent-free period (to allow the tenant to fit out category A works) will be triggered by practical completion of the shell and core works.
Practical completion of the shell and core works should be defined by certification by the landlord’s contract administrator and will include all requirements under the building regulations for occupation other than those that await completion of tenant's work.
Because of the complexity of commissioning landlord and tenant's work contemporaneously, it is advisable that the setting to work of service systems and commissioning activities are carried out by an independent commissioning agency with a duty of care to both landlord and tenant.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Advantages of shell and core.
- Base construction.
- Building regulations.
- Client commissioning.
- Commissioning v testing.
- Fit out.
- Furniture fixtures and equipment.
- Multi-storey structure.
- Practical completion.
- Rent free period.
- Set to work.
- Shear wall.
- Skeleton frame.
- Structural systems for offices.
Featured articles and news
All about E-procurement
Winners and finalists in CIAT's architectural technology awards.
Their survival against the odds is a remarkable feature of the City’s history.
Immersed, charmed and inspired on conservation’s front line.
About JCT...and the rest
The Centre Building, London School of Economics
Architecture course essentials
Enhancing employee health and wellbeing
Underfloor heating opportunities as world radiator market cools.
Points to consider to make specifying sustainable.
It is not just about speed