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  • Glossary of Industry Terminology for Office Design and Build

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  • Whether you have experienced many office moves and refurbishments or you are considering using a design and build company for the first time, we here at Oktra know that some industry terminology can be confusing.

    The following list has been compiled to help you get to grips with some commonplace jargon.

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  • BREEAM
    This acronym stands for: Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. First introduced in 1990, this rating system has become the world’s primary sustainability assessment. In order to acquire a BREEAM rating, a building will have to undergo a third-party certification by a licensed BREEAM assessor.

    Cat A fit out
    Put simply, the Cat A fit out follows the shell and core stage and ensures the building is fully functional. It covers the installation of all standard facilities such as electrical services and general lighting but it does not extend any further to include features of décor and interior design.

    Cat A+ fit out
    The Cat A+ fit out exists primarily for landlords. It includes all the elements of a standard Cat A fit out with the addition of rudimentary features from Cat B such as meeting rooms and a tea point. This ensures that the space contains the essential features that prospective tenants will require to be able to use the space upon arrival.

    Cat B fit out
    The Cat B fit out continues the project from the Cat A process, transforming the bare space into a decorated and fully furnished office. The Cat B procedure takes into account the specific needs of the staff that will be using the building and tailors the space to their requirements.

    Coworking
    As an increasingly popular phenomenon, coworking is changing the way smaller businesses operate. A coworking building either charges for membership or receives payment on a “pay as you go” basis. The facility then provides access to office spaces and collaborative areas for registered members. As coworking environments are shared by different companies, they are often sociable places with a strong sense of community.

    Design and build
    This refers to a project procurement which sees a single company take responsibility for both design and construction services in completing a fit out or refurbishment project. In contrast to the traditional “design-tender” model, wherein contractors will bid to deliver a specific design, D&B provides a single point of responsibility and allows the design and construction phases to overlap. This benefits the client as it improves efficiency and reliability, delivering the project at a cheaper cost and in less time. Find out more about the benefits of design and build here.

    Detail and build

    This is a project procurement wherein the design is provided by the client and the design and build company take responsibility for its execution. This differs from the traditional construction route because there is a fixed price and program. The project risk is taken on by the design and build company.

    Fitwel
    This is a building certification system that assesses the impact of buildings upon health and seeks to promote particular architectural practices to benefit the wellbeing of the occupants. In evaluating the impact of a building upon health, the following are among the criteria considered: the impact on community health, occupant safety and the extent to which the building’s design encourages physical activity.

    Office fit out
    An office fit out is a project that entails the development of an office space to ensure it fulfils the demands of its occupants.

    Refurbishment (Refurb)
    This entails delivering a Cat B fit out on an office that is no longer fit for purpose. This is usually prompted by either the need to repurpose a space for new occupants and their specific requirements or a desire to freshen up a space that has become worn and dated.

    Shell and core
    This term refers to the procedure that is undertaken on a building before the Cat A phase can begin. This first stage of the process encompasses the construction of the framework and structure of the building itself, including such elements as the lifts and stairwell. By the end of the “shell and core,” you should effectively have a blank canvas that paves the way for a wealth of fit out possibilities.

    SKA rating
    The SKA rating is a method of environmental assessment for fit out projects in the UK. The scheme was introduced by The RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) as an alternative to the existing industry models for environmental certification which evaluate entire buildings instead of focusing on fit out projects.

    Space plan/space audit
    This is a process wherein information about an organisation is collated and analysed to determine the requirements of the staff. This data then informs the fit out plans so as to respond to the needs of the staff.

    WELL Building Standard
    This is a system of certification that is run by IWBI (The International WELL Building Institute). They are the world’s first building certification body that is devoted to assessing the impact of buildings upon human health and wellbeing. The scheme promotes particular design and construction practices that have been proven to support human health by medical and scientific research.

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