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What Does the Future of a CAT Fit-Out Look Like?

The British Council of Offices (BCO) recently turned some heads with the release of a new report, Circular Economy in Offices. It recommended that CAT-A be eliminated from office fit-out projects unless the incoming tenant specifically asked for it. But is that really necessary? We’re not entirely convinced that it is.

CAT-A and CAT-B are two terms that are thrown around a lot in the fit-out sector:

  • CAT-A refers to landlord fit-outs that create a blank canvas to rent out to tenants.
  • CAT-B is normally a ‘client fit-out’ where the space is personalised to meet the tenant’s requirements.

So, what is it about CAT-A fit-outs that has led to calls for them to be phased out, and how we can instead adapt our approach to ensure we retain the best of both worlds?

What’s the issue with CAT-A fit-outs?

The main argument against requiring CAT-A fit-outs is the changing views towards sustainable development practices. CAT-A fit-outs are designed with marketability in mind; reverting a space back to a blank canvas to attract potential clients once the incumbent tenant has departed.

Those against this approach argue that it is wasteful and unsustainable, using unnecessary resources just with the hopes of selling or renting out a property. Instead, those pushing for an end to CAT-A say that landlords should market properties as they are and fund fit-out projects only after a client has requested them to avoid additional waste and the need for more materials.

What is the future looking like for CAT-A?

As is the case with many standard practises, CAT-A can evolve and adapt as the building and construction industry strives to be more sustainable, waste less and re-use more.

As the industry moves forward, here are some of the key considerations that must be taken around CAT-A fit-outs to ensure they’re considerate of the environment and make optimal use of resources:

  1. Use technology during design stages: Virtual reality (VR) is becoming an important tool in the fit-out industry to visualise designs and spaces without the need to do any physical work. These tools can help developers identify inefficiencies and make corrections to enhance sustainability.
  2. Embrace collaboration between development partners: For a CAT-A fit-out to be sustainable, all partners must work together to prioritise it. Each partner should communicate with others to ensure their work is beneficial across all stages of construction and reduce waste throughout the process.
  3. Take a holistic approach to fit-out projects: Before starting a project, fit-out teams should go in with the knowledge of wanting to design with reusability and sustainability in mind. Rather than looking at each task that needs to be completed during the CAT-A fit-out, the approach should be to prioritise sustainability wherever possible.
  4. Consider how materials can be stored and reused throughout the tenancy: If developers are able to store materials that can be used later on to repair issues in the property, this will reduce any potential waste and damage further down the line. This means that the impact of modifying systems further down the line in a CAT-B fit-out is minimised.
Developing for tomorrow’s world

The construction industry is starting to move towards a more sustainable future, which is better for tenants and the wider community. However, it is still a long journey that requires all parties to collaborate and get creative.

At SCAPE, we’re increasingly transitioning to a new era of CAT-A, known as CAT-A+. While encompassing many of the same considerations as CAT-A, CAT-A+ goes a stage further to also consider elements such as furniture, amenities such as communal kitchens and bathrooms and practical additions such as power points and communications needs.

This type of fit out bridges the gap between the traditional CAT-A and CAT-B approaches, while benefitting both tenant and landlord by creating a marketable, ready-to-move-in-to space that the new occupants can still stamp their brand on.

If you’d like to talk more about how to achieve a sustainable CAT-A fit-out, we’d love to talk. Get in touch with SCAPE today.

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