Fit-out, refurbishment & dilapidations – what’s the difference?
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Fit-out, refurbishment & dilapidations – what’s the difference?

Office fit-out & refurbishment can mean almost identical jobs but they are usually used in different circumstances. Dilapidations are different to both fit-out & refurbishment but still important when moving offices.

To confuse matters, fit-out can mean different things for landlords and tenants but essentially mean getting an office space ready for you when you take occupation of a new office. Refurbishment is the term normally used to mean re-ordering or improving your existing office and dilapidations are the process of returning your office to the standard required by your existing landlord when you vacate at the end of your lease.

Landlord (Cat A) & Tenant (Cat B) fit-outs – what’s the difference?

When you lease an office, the Landlord will normally fit-out the office to Cat A standard.  This means, they will make sure all the communal areas are fully decorated with washrooms, lifts and fire detection in place.  In your office space, they will normally have installed air conditioning, raised floors and suspended ceilings and provided a basic finish to the perimeter walls. Here we see a typical Cat A fit-out.

The tenant’s fit-out is the Cat B version which you and your contractor are responsible for.  This is where you can use partitioning or design techniques to divide the space to create a reception area, cellular offices, boardroom, meeting rooms, & break-out areas and the open-plan working area as desired. Here we see the Cat B finish to the same area as above, fitted-out as a kitchen/break out area.

Usually in a tenant fit-out, cabling and sockets are hidden through floor-boxes and IT and audio visual services are installed to your specification.  You can also adapt the air conditioning and lighting as required.  The kitchen/tea point/café areas can be designed to cater for the needs of your staff and if required, visitors or the public.

The final finish including colour scheme, carpeting and furniture are chosen both to enable staff to work effectively but also to reflect your branding and corporate values.


Refurbishment is upgrading any or most of the services of an initial fit-out but for your existing offices.  This needs careful planning to make sure the work doesn’t disrupt your day-to-day business. For minor works, such as updating a boardroom, this is relatively straight forward; but for more extensive projects, such as converting a large area from open plan to cellular offices & meeting rooms, your contractor should be able to advise you on the ways you can lessen the inconvenience and keep your staff working.


Dilapidations are pretty much the opposite of fit-out.  It is the process of returning a space to the Landlord as required.  Your lease will specify the exact terms, but usually, unless you do this yourself, your landlord will charge you for the work.  By appointing your own contractor to carry out the work, you should be able to make a considerable saving on the Landlord’s fee.

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