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What’s the difference between fitout and refurbishment? Which One to Choose?


Understanding the Differences and Choosing the Best Option for Your Sydney or Melbourne Office!

In the realm of business interiors, terms like “commercial fit out” and “office refurbishment” are often used interchangeably, but they represent distinctly different processes. Understanding the nuances between the two is crucial for businesses planning to enhance their workspace, especially in dynamic cities like Sydney and Melbourne. 
In this blog, we’ll delve into what distinguishes a commercial fit out from an office refurbishment and help you decide which option is best suited for your business needs.
Good commercial fit out example


What is a Commercial Fit Out?

A commercial fit out involves transforming an empty or shell space into a fully functional workspace. This comprehensive process is typically divided into several stages, each critical for creating an effective working environment:
  • Shell & Core: This is the foundational stage where the basic structure of the building is completed. It includes essential structural elements such as the frame, cladding, and external finishes. At this point, the space is essentially a blank canvas, ready for internal development.
  • Category A (Cat A): At this stage, the space receives basic internal finishes. This includes ceilings, floors, and essential mechanical and electrical services like HVAC systems, lighting, and fire safety installations. Once completed, the space is ready for tenant-specific customisation.
  • Category B (Cat B): This final stage involves tailoring the space to meet the tenant’s specific requirements. It includes installing partition walls, furniture, branding elements, and specialised installations such as IT infrastructure, bespoke lighting, and other unique design elements. Category B fit outs are where the space truly begins to reflect the tenant’s brand and operational needs.
A commercial fit out is ideal for businesses moving into a new space that has not been previously occupied. It allows for the creation of a bespoke environment tailored specifically to the needs and preferences of the business, ensuring that every aspect of the workspace supports productivity and reflects the company’s identity.


What is an Office Refurbishment?

An office refurbishment focuses on updating and enhancing an existing workspace without making significant structural changes. Refurbishments can vary greatly in scope, from minor cosmetic updates to more substantial renovations that improve functionality and modernise the office environment. Typical refurbishment activities include:
  • Repainting Walls and Updating Flooring: Fresh paint and new flooring can dramatically transform the look and feel of an office, making it appear more modern and welcoming.
  • Replacing or Updating Furniture: New or updated furniture can enhance comfort and productivity, and ensure the office meets contemporary ergonomic standards.
  • Improving Lighting and HVAC Systems: Upgrading lighting to more efficient LED systems and improving HVAC systems can enhance employee comfort and reduce energy costs.
  • Reconfiguring Layouts: Modifying the office layout can improve space utilisation, enhance workflow, and create a more collaborative environment.
Office refurbishments are perfect for businesses looking to refresh their existing office to align with current trends and improve functionality without the extensive work involved in a full fit out. It allows companies to modernise their space, potentially improving employee satisfaction and productivity while minimising disruption to daily operations.

Key Differences Between Commercial Fit Outs and Office Refurbishments

1. Scope:
  • Commercial Fit Outs: These involve extensive work, often transforming an empty shell into a fully functional office space. This process includes major installations and customisations to create a brand-new working environment.
  • Office Refurbishments: These are generally less invasive and focus on updating the aesthetics and functionality of an existing space. While refurbishments can be extensive, they typically do not involve significant structural changes.
2. Purpose:
  • Commercial Fit Outs: The primary goal is to create a new workspace from scratch, making it ideal for new offices or significant relocations. Fit outs are about establishing a completely new environment tailored to the tenant’s specific needs and brand.
  • Office Refurbishments: The focus is on refreshing and modernising an existing workspace. This is perfect for companies that are staying in the same location but need to update their environment to improve aesthetics, functionality, or to align with new branding.
3. Impact on Operations:
  • Commercial Fit Outs: These projects often require the office to be unoccupied during the process, particularly during the Shell & Core and Cat A stages. This ensures that the fit out can be completed efficiently and to a high standard without disrupting business operations.
  • Office Refurbishments: These can often be completed in phases to minimise disruption to business operations. Refurbishments can be planned to occur outside of regular business hours or in stages to allow the business to continue operating during the renovation.


Choosing Between a Fit Out and a Refurbishment

When deciding between a commercial fit out and an office refurbishment, there are several factors to consider:

  • Current State of the Office: If you are moving into a new space that is currently just a shell, a fit out will be necessary to make the space usable. However, if you have an existing office that just needs updating, a refurbishment may be sufficient.
  • Budget: Commercial fit outs typically require a larger budget compared to refurbishments due to the extent of the work involved. It’s important to assess your financial resources and determine what level of investment is feasible for your business.
  • Timeline: Fit outs can take longer to complete due to the comprehensive nature of the work. Refurbishments, being less invasive, can often be completed more quickly, which may be a critical factor if you need the office to remain operational during the process.
  • Business Needs: Consider what your business needs most from its workspace. If your current office layout is fundamentally flawed and impacting productivity, a fit out might be the best solution. Conversely, if the layout works but the space feels outdated, a refurbishment could be the right choice.



At NMGS, we specialise in both commercial fit outs and office refurbishments. Whether you’re in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, and anywhere in Australia, our team of experts can help transform your workspace into a productive and inspiring environment. We understand the unique needs of businesses in these vibrant cities and are committed to delivering solutions that meet your specific requirements.

Our services include:

  • Comprehensive Fit Out Solutions: From Shell & Core to Category B fit outs, we manage every stage of the process, ensuring that your new office space is functional, stylish, and tailored to your needs.
  • Expert Refurbishments: We offer bespoke refurbishment services designed to modernise and revitalise your existing workspace. Our team can handle everything from minor cosmetic updates to more substantial renovations.
  • And more, please contact us

Commercial Fit Out and Office Refurbishment Services in Sydney and Melbourne

For businesses in Sydney and Melbourne, NMGS offers tailored services that cater to the distinct demands of each city. Our extensive experience in these markets ensures that we provide solutions that not only enhance your workspace but also comply with local regulations and standards.

In Sydney, known for its dynamic business environment, we understand the need for workspaces that reflect the city’s innovative spirit. Whether you’re looking to create a new office from scratch or update your existing space, NMGS can provide the expertise and support you need.

In Melbourne, a city renowned for its creativity and culture, we offer fit out and refurbishment services that cater to the unique aesthetic and functional demands of Melbourne businesses. Our projects aim to enhance productivity and create environments that inspire creativity and collaboration.


Choosing between a commercial fit out and an office refurbishment depends on your specific needs and goals. If you’re moving into a new space, a fit out might be the best option. However, if you want to modernise your existing office, a refurbishment could be the way to go.


Speak to NMGS:

At NMGS, we are committed to helping businesses in Sydney and Melbourne create workspaces that boost productivity and reflect their brand identity. Our team of experts is ready to assist you in transforming your office space, whether through a comprehensive fit out or a targeted refurbishment.

Contact us today to discuss your project and find out how we can help you achieve your ideal office space. With NMGS, you can be assured of a workspace that not only meets but exceeds your expectations.