Commercial Fit Outs

How Sustainable Interior Commercial Fit Outs Are Transforming Office Spaces 

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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In the contemporary commercial industry, sustainable interior commercial fit-outs are rapidly transforming office spaces. This transition is reshaping how commercial buildings are constructed, moving towards a more environmentally conscious approach. Commercial fit-outs are becoming increasingly important, especially for businesses looking to optimize their existing space, reduce environmental impact, and align the office design of their commercial space with the company's culture and business style.   

What Are Commercial Fit Outs?   

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A commercial fit-out is an umbrella term referring to the process of making an interior commercial space ready for use by a new tenant. A fit-out project involves the construction, refurbishment, or alteration of the interior of a commercial building, creating spaces inside tailored to the intended use. 

This project often necessitates partnering with a fit-out company to ensure that the process of transforming an interior commercial space goes well until it is completed. They help assure that all the refurbishment needed and the systems lacking are addressed for the new occupants of the building. The commercial fit-out construction process is classified into different categories, with 'shell and core fit-outs' and 'Category B fit-outs' being the most common.   

a) Shell Core Fit Outs   

In commercial construction, a shell core fit-out refers to the initial phase of constructing commercial buildings. At this stage, the building's structural features are established, leaving the interior essentially left bare. Basic building services like electrical wiring, plumbing fixtures, and air conditioning units are installed. However, these systems are left lacking final connectivity, ready to be tailored to the specific needs of the new tenants.   

b) Category B Fit Outs   

Moving forward to another fit-out category, a Category B fit-out focuses on creating a commercial design that reflects the tenant's brand and business. This category involves developing interior walls, finishing floors, installing window treatments, adding furniture, incorporating wallpaper ideas, and even setting up office equipment like desk phones and internet connectivity. The Category B layout achieves the transformation from an open, undesigned space to a complete, operational office.  

c) Shop Fittings 

Shop fittings cater specifically to the retail industry. They focus on optimizing retail store spaces to enhance customer experience and maximize sales. Shop fittings involve the strategic layout of the retail space, placement and style of shelves, counters, display units, and fitting rooms. Each element is designed with the intent to guide customer flow and highlight products effectively.   

The Impact Of Commercial Fit-Outs On Your Interior Space

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Commercial fit-outs play a crucial role in optimizing commercial spaces. By providing more space or altering the existing one, fit-outs can significantly affect how much space is available for the business. They enable the business to construct an office that meets its specific needs based on the number of your team members, work ethics, business moves, and the requirement in certain locations your commercial space may be in. 

1. Customization According To Business Needs  

Many businesses today demand unique office spaces that embody their company culture and values. A commercial fit-out allows for the customization of the office interior design, incorporating aspects that reflect the business' identity. For example, a tech startup may prefer an open office space with collaborative areas, while a law firm may need more individual offices and client meeting rooms.    

2. Adaptability To Changes   

Commercial fit-outs offer flexibility to businesses. The team size may increase as the business grows, necessitating more space. Or, refurbishment could be needed as the existing furniture and equipment become outdated. Fit-outs can adapt to these changes, providing an opportunity for businesses to make the necessary adjustments without completely overhauling the entire office construction.    

Sustainability In Commercial Fit Outs   

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As global awareness of environmental issues increases, the construction industry is pivoting towards sustainability. A sustainable commercial fit-out is becoming a common practice, aiming to reduce the negative impact on the environment caused by commercial spaces.    

a) Eco-Friendly Materials   

Fit-out companies are now emphasizing eco-friendly materials, which have less environmental impact than traditional ones. For example, a retail store may include office furniture that uses recycled or reclaimed wood, non-toxic paint, or energy-efficient lighting fixtures that significantly reduce the environmental footprint.    

b) Energy Efficiency For Your Existing Space  

One key area where sustainable fit-outs shine is energy efficiency. This is achieved by installing energy-saving electrical appliances, optimizing natural light through strategic window placement, and using energy-efficient air conditioning units. The aim is to minimize energy consumption, thereby reducing the building's carbon footprint.    

c) Waste Management   

During the fit-out process, waste is inevitable. However, sustainable fit-out companies are taking steps to manage and reduce waste produced during construction. They achieve this by reusing materials where possible, recycling waste, and working with suppliers who take back packaging for reuse.   

Frequently Asked Questions About Commercial Fit Outs

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i) What is a commercial fit out?

A commercial fit out is the remodelling of an interior space to fit the needs of a client or an occupant. While this term is mostly used in relation to office construction, it can be used in general commercial construction as well.

ii) What is included in an office fit out?

Since a commercial fit out is used to make office interiors suitable for occupation, features that are added to such spaces include furnishing, fittings, electrical connections, plumbing lighting, mechanical equipment, interior design and more.

iii) What are the steps in a fit out?

When undertaking a commercial fit out, there are steps you can keep in mind to actualize the plan. Here are a few steps you can use;

  • Doing a needs assessment from the client
  • Finding a location
  • Defining project scope
  • Developing a design concept
  • Preparing a fitting budget
  • Creating a timeline
  • Finding a contractor
  • Finding permits and approvals
  • Undertaking the project

iv) What is the difference between a fit out and a renovation?

A fit out is the customization of a space to fit a need, while renovation is the repair of a space to make it usable.

Final Thoughts 

Sustainable commercial fit-outs are no longer a trend—they are a necessity. As businesses become more aware of their environmental responsibilities, the demand for eco-friendly commercial fit-outs is set to increase. They reduce the environmental impact of commercial buildings and create healthier, more productive workspaces that reflect a company's core values and business ethics. With commercial fit-out companies increasingly adopting sustainable practices, the future of office spaces looks bright, green, and responsible. Indeed, sustainable commercial fit-outs are transforming the commercial space industry, one office at a time.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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