What is an interior fit-out?

  • May 3, 2023
480 639 CCL Interiors

Got an empty space that you want to do business in? You’ll need an interior fit-out.

An interior fit-out is the process of taking a blank canvas of space in a building and installing everything you need to make it usable and functional.

If you’re wondering if an interior fit-out is right for your needs, this guide will explain everything you need to know.

  • What are the benefits of an interior fit-out?
  • When might I need an interior fit-out?
  • What elements does an interior fit-out include?
  • The three different types of interior fit-outs
    • A shell core fit-out
    • A ‘Cat A’ fit-out
    • A ‘Cat B’ fit-out
    • Which type of fit-out is right for your needs?
  • Is an interior fit-out the same as a refurbishment?
  • Is planning permission and building regulations approval needed for an interior fit-out?
  • How do you go about an interior fit-out?
  • How much does an interior fit-out cost?
  • CCL Interiors: your interior fit-out specialists

What are the benefits of an interior fit-out?

An interior fit-out is a fantastic way to make the most of your building space and improve the well-being of your building residents.

Some of the benefits of an interior fit-out include:

  • Making your interior space more appealing to employees, visitors, and customers
  • Making your interior space safer, more secure, and more fire resistant
  • Optimising the layout of your interior space by adding new walls, offices, and even floors. Many building owners don’t know that they can transform the layout of their interior space with a well-designed fit-out solution
  • Reinforcing brand awareness by showcasing your brand colours, logo, and values
  • Improving the ventilation and soundproofing of your interior space to provide a more pleasant working environment for staff
  • Modernising and futureproofing your interior space
  • Increasing the resale value of your building should you choose to sell it in the future

When might I need an interior fit-out?

An interior fit-out is usually needed when a business moves into a new building. A building contractor will typically leave an interior space as an empty shell, ready for the building tenant or owner to do what they want with.

However, there may also be circumstances where a business strips out its existing space to the point that a new interior fit-out is required.

What elements does an interior fit-out include?

No two interior fit-outs are the same. 

An interior fit-out can be as simple as installing some new light fittings and a fresh carpet, or as complicated as building new walls, ceilings and floors.

The three different types of interior fit-outs

Interior fit-outs can be split into three categories: 

A shell core fit-out

A shell core fit-out is the most extreme type of interior fit-out, as all you have is the concrete and metal frame of your building. With a shell core fit-out, you need to add structural elements like walls, cladding, ceilings, stairs, and lift shafts.

A ‘Cat A’ fit-out

With a ‘Cat A’, the basic frame of an interior space is in place, but M&E elements like wiring, lighting, and HVAC need to be installed. Wall partitions, raised access flooring, and suspended ceilings might be added at this point. 

Sometimes landlords offer what is known as a ‘Cat A+’ fit-out, which sits between a ‘Cat A’ and ‘Cat B’ fit-out and is popular with tenants looking to rent. This is because they can move in and start using the space straight away, but still add elements of their branding and personal style.

A ‘Cat B’ fit-out

A ‘Cat B’ is the most fun part of an interior fit-out. It’s when the bespoke design elements that make an interior space stand out are added before people start moving in. Think floor finishes, specialist lighting, and furniture – anything that helps build brand awareness and makes an interior space feel more cosy and welcoming. 

Which type of fit-out is right for your needs?

Still not too sure what the difference is between the three types of interior fit-out? Compare it to making a cake. A shell core fit-out is the equivalent of getting all your ingredients together in one place. ‘Cat A’ is the equivalent of making and baking your cake, while ‘Cat B’ is the equivalent of decorating it!

It might be that you only need a ‘Cat B’ fit-out, or you may need to take advantage of all three types of fit-out to make your space fully functional. If you’re not sure what you need, a specialist interior fit-out company, like CCL Interiors, will be able to advise what’s right for you.

Is an interior fit-out the same as a refurbishment?

Some people think an interior fit-out and an interior refurbishment are the same, but this isn’t the case. An interior fit-out is when you take an empty space and transform it into something entirely new. 

A refurbishment is when you take an existing space and update it to be more functional or modern. For example, by switching out an existing light feature, or changing the flooring.

A refurbishment is more design-centric, while a fit-out focuses more on structure and functionality. However, both are great ways to modernise your internal space and make it more functional!

Is planning permission and building regulations approval needed for an interior fit-out?

Planning permission depends on the work being done. It’s not typically needed for internal alterations and renovations, although you may need to get it if you are in a listed building or conservation area. 

Planning permission is usually needed if changes need to be made to the external appearance or structure of a building, for example, if windows need to be installed. 

Building regulations approval is typically needed for any works that affect the fire safety or structural integrity of a building. It is also required for the installation of new plumbing, electrical, or ventilation systems.

It’s vital to get the correct type of permission and approval; otherwise, enforcement action can be taken by your local authority. The good news is that an interior fit-out specialist will be able to identify any issues and get the proper paperwork in place before any fit-out work begins.

How do you go about an interior fit-out?

While you can manage an interior fit-out yourself, it’s always better to leave it to the professionals

A specialist company will ensure your fit-out project finishes on time and make sure your project is in line with planning and building regulations. They’ll also be able to use their network of suppliers to save you money on your fit-out project.

There isn’t such a thing as a ‘typical’ interior fit-out project, just as no two buildings are the same. However, most projects look a little like this:

  • The fit-out specialist meets with the relevant people to understand what the business wants to achieve from the project. A brief and outline are drawn up
  • Once the brief is agreed upon, the fit-out specialist creates designs and plans and determines the scope of the work. It’s vital that both the specialist and the business are in complete agreement at all times
  • When the design has been signed off, the fit-out specialist gets planning permission and permits for the work. They then design a project plan to determine what parts of the fit-out will be implemented and when
  • The work then takes place, with the fit-out specialist providing labour and materials. Communication is essential, and the fit-out specialist will keep the business up to date with what is happening, and if there are any potential issues on the horizon
  • When the work is done, the fit-out specialist will walk the business through their new space, explaining how everything works. Any manuals (for example, for lifts) will be left with the business

How much does an interior fit-out cost?

It depends on the size of the space, how quickly the work needs to be done, and how much work is required. As a general rule of thumb, a shell core fit-out will cost substantially more than a ‘Cat B’ fit-out.

An interior fit-out specialist will help you save money on materials, meaning you can make the most out of your budget.

CCL Interiors: your interior fit-out specialists

We specialise in fit-outs for all buildings and businesses, including offices, factories, educational establishments and retail spaces.

Our team of experts work with you to create an interior fit-out plan tailored to your needs, the structure of your building, and your budget. This means you get a high-quality fit-out that will look fantastic and last for years to come.

Contact us today to find out more about our fit-out services.