Shell and core fit out
26 March, 2024
What is a shell and core fit out in design and build?
For many businesses and education facilities, opting for a design and build approach to the development of their space, distinct from a traditional construction route, is a whole new world of learning and understanding.

Faster, more dependable, more cost-effective and giving you greater transparency over the final outcome, it’s quickly becoming the preferred way to transform spaces for better outcomes. 

Within design and build fit outs however, there are three basic options you can choose from, each with different levels of inclusion. These are Shell and Core, Cat A and Cat B. In this article, we’re going to look at shell and core fit outs in greater detail, including what they are and what benefits they have.

What is a shell and core fit out?

A shell and core fit out is the most basic type of fit out, where we build the fundamental framework of the space and in broad terms provide you with a blank canvas (or an empty shell) to complete as you wish. The things that shell and core includes are the structure (walls, basic floors, and roof), cladding, external works and the building’s mechanical and electrical infrastructure.

The interior however is left unfinished, which means no walls or partitions, no final finishes, lighting fixtures and so forth. If a shell and core fit out is instructed by a landlord, then it will also include the completion of communal areas such as stairwells, lobbies, lifts and loading areas.

What are the alternatives to a shell and core fit out?

To place the shell and core fit out in context, the alternative options are Cat A and Cat B fit outs, which can also be combined so that you get the benefits of both.

shell and core fit out

Cat A fit outs

A Cat A fit out is the next evolution up from shell and core in that it involves the basic interior finish of your dedicated space. For example, it will ensure the completion of basic electrical applications including lighting, fire protection systems, raised floors, suspended ceilings, air conditioning and ventilation systems.

However, while walls might be painted in a basic finish (white, for example) they don’t include any colour schemes, branding, or details, which is why they’re most popular amongst landlords completing spaces before letting them to commercial tenants.

design and build

Cat B fit outs

A Cat B fit out sees the completion of a space with bespoke layout and design features, from the desired paint colours to the mapping of zones within the space (workstations, conference rooms and breakout areas). This also includes details such as specialist lighting, door and floor finishes, joinery, partitions, IT and audiovisual equipment, specific mechanical systems, plants, acoustic treatments and furniture.

What are the benefits of a shell and core fit out?

There are lots of reasons a shell and core fit out might be right for a project, particularly if the tenant has not yet been selected, the purpose of the space is not fully defined, or you want to defer the costs of finishing the interior of the space to a later date. Benefits include:

  • Greater flexibility for the tenant
  • A better finish for the tenant to work with
  • A cost-effective approach to preparing buildings for tenants
  • Prevents the cost and hassle of removing and altering landlord installations and fittings
  • It provides a quicker route to market for landlords looking to rent out space
  • It enables faster access for tenants looking to move into their space as soon as possible

Who is a shell and core fit out for?

A shell and core fit out is great and economical for someone who owns the building and is looking to prepare it for tenants, making sure it’s safe and meets regulations but giving tenants the choice to customise individual spaces to suit their needs.

It’s also great for someone who has the internal capacity to do interior Cat A and Cat B works themselves but needs the basic details underway before they start.

Maris Interiors’ approach to shell and core

At Maris, whether delivering shell and core fit outs or complete Cat A and Cat B finishes, our tried and tested approach remains the same.

We engage with you and your team to create a vision for a space that meets your needs today and tomorrow, and we develop a programme of works to fit with your schedule and budget.

Want to find out how to create the right space for your needs?

Speak to the team at Maris