Engineer team meeting to inspect the construction blueprint drawings, work plan and distribute work before starting the building. top view

What is the difference between a base build, a fit out and a fit up?

In this blog post, we’re going to explore the key differences between a base build, a fit out, and a fit up. Let’s go!

When it comes to renovating an office or shopfront (or any commercial space for that matter), understanding the different terms and services involved is essential. For example, in this blog post, we’re going to explore the key differences between a base build, a fit out, and a fit up. 

Better understanding these terms can help you better navigate the world of commercial renovations and get to the core services that you need. 

Without further ado, let’s jump straight in! 

What type of service do you need to hire to successfully renovate an office or shop?

Renovating an office or shop requires careful planning and execution. Depending on the size and scope of your project, you may need to call in the professionals who specialise in commercial renovations. 

These commercial renovations experts can guide you through the entire process from start to finish and ensure that your finished space ultimately meets your specific needs and requirements.

Now, let’s move onto the lingo and define the different stages of a commercial renovation…

What is meant by a “base build”?

A base build refers to the construction and installation of the fundamental elements of a commercial space. This includes the core structure and services provided by the building owner or developer. Here’s some further elaboration if you aren’t quite sure:

  • Core structure: The base build involves the construction of the ‘shell and core’ of the building, including the walls, flooring, and ceilings (e.g., suspended ceilings to hide cables and utilities).
  • Essential services: The base build includes the installation of all basic and essential services such as the electrical wiring, plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
  • Base finishes: Base finishes typically refer to the basic flooring, wall paint, and ceiling finishes provided by the building owner.
Businesswoman sitting working on a laptop computer in the middle of an empty office

What is a “fit out”?

A fit out refers to the process of customising and finishing the interior space of a commercial property. It involves transforming the base build (Step 1), into a functional and aesthetically appealing environment that meets the specific needs of the occupant (e.g., office partitions and meeting rooms). Here are some key points to consider about a fit out:

  • Customisation: An office or shop fit out allows you to tailor the space to your commercial requirements. This includes partitioning the area, installing additional rooms or offices, and incorporating specific design elements.
  • Installing fixtures and fittings: A fit out also involves installing fixtures such as lighting, cabinetry, shelving, and all the other necessary fittings to make the space fully functional.
  • Space optimization: A fit out focuses on optimizing the use of space, thus ensuring efficient workflows and (more importantly) maximum productivity.

What does the term “fit up” mean?

The term “fit up” is often used interchangeably with “fit out” and refers to the same process of customising the interior space. This involves the installation of finishing touches and finalising the details of the space. In essence, a fit up is the ultimate completion of the fit out process (aka, the finishing touches). 

Top view background image of printing factory workshop, copy space

What is the difference between a base build, a fit out, and a fit up?

Understanding the differences between these terms is crucial to planning your commercial renovation project effectively. Here’s a breakdown of the key distinctions:

  • Base build: The base build refers to the construction and installation of the fundamental elements of a commercial space, provided by the building owner or developer.
  • Fit out: A fit out involves customizing and finishing the interior space to meet specific requirements and needs, including partitioning, fixtures, and optimizing the use of space.
  • Fit up: The term “fit up” is often used interchangeably with “fit out” and can have multiple meanings:
    • Often, ‘fit up’ refers to the completion of the fit out process (e.g., finalising the details).
    • Fit up can also refer to renovations made in a smaller space, with fit out referring to larger spaces. 
    • Another use of fit up refers to making a space liveable, as opposed to fit for occupation. 

Can you fit out an office or shop by yourself, or do you need to hire professionals?

While it may be tempting to tackle a fit out project yourself in order to cut back on your spending, hiring the professionals is highly recommended. Here’s why:

  • Expertise: Professional fit out companies have the knowledge, experience, and skills to execute a successful fit out on your behalf. They can provide valuable guidance, ensure compliance with all of the necessary regulations, and deliver high-quality results. 
  • Time and efficiency: Commercial office fit outs require the careful planning and coordination of multiple trades, including carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and more. The professionals can manage these tasks efficiently, thus saving you time and ensuring a smooth project timeline.
  • Quality and aesthetics: Professional fit out companies have access to a wide range of materials, finishes, and design options. They can help you achieve the desired look and functionality of your space while maintaining quality standards.

Simply put, the fit out industry is huge for a reason: these people know their stuff. So, our advice would be to call in the professionals, pay them what they are worth, and enjoy your wonderful new commercial space. 

Man and lady sitting near the table with architectural plans and talking in the office

What are the benefits of hiring a professional fit outs company?

Hiring a professional fit outs company offers several advantages, including:

  • Design expertise: Fit out professionals have a deeper understanding of space planning, ergonomics, and interior design. They can help you create a functional and visually appealing environment that aligns with your brand perfectly.
  • Project management: The best fit out companies will handle every single aspect of the project, from initial planning, all the way through to the final installation. They coordinate trades, manage timelines, and ensure that the fit out project is successfully completed on time and to your satisfaction.
  • Compliance and regulations: Professional fit out companies are knowledgeable about all of the necessary building codes and local / national regulations. They will ensure that your fit out meets all of the legal requirements, including accessibility and safety standards.
  • Cost-effectiveness: While hiring professionals involves an upfront investment, their expertise can help you avoid incredibly costly mistakes and rework in the long-run. Furthermore, they can also provide you with cost-saving solutions that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to secure on your own, such as bulk purchasing options on materials. 


And that about sums it up! Let’s have a brief recap of what we’ve learned in this article: 

  • A base build is the “core and shell” or a renovation project. 
  • A fit out refers to the pre-decoration stages of a renovation project, including some furniture and utilities. 
  • A fit up can either refer to renovating residential spaces, redecorating smaller commercial spaces, or indeed the final stages of a fit out. 
  • It’s entirely worth hiring the professionals to help you with your commercial fit out requirements. 

We hope that you have found this article useful and wish you the very best of luck with your future renovations and fit outs.

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