M J Rooney

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by M J Rooney's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from M J Rooney is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


MJ Rooney deliver basement
and superstructure to a bespoke
London home
Left to right: Cormac, Eoin
and Dermot Rooney
MJRooney is a family-run civil engineering contractor
operating primarily in the London and southeast for the
basement construction sector. Established in 1987 by
Michael J Rooney, the company is now managed by his three
sons, and recently celebrated its 30thanniversary. Their primary
trade is the formation of subterranean structures to create
basements under new and existing homes. As a result of the
careful planning and delivery required to undertake this work
in a safe and considerate manner, it is an incredibly niche and
specialised field. Dermot Rooney, commercial director, discusses
their success within that market.
The key to achievement
Our company operates in an extremely specialist sector of the construction industry
and, with the cost of housing on the rise, the geographic map for where basements are
built is getting larger and larger, resulting in an ever-expanding construction sector.
The past year has by far been our most successful year of trading. Despite the nation’s
concerns over Brexit and the subsequent drop in value of the pound, we have
just achieved the best trading year on record, which really underlines our growing
reputation within the marketplace. Furthermore, to commemorate the recent
milestone in the company’s history, we entered and were honoured to win four of
the major national construction awards.
Our investment in technology and staff upskilling brings a cost to the business
which some might think would make you less competitive. Our commitment
»Directors: Brothers Eoin,
Cormac and Dermot Rooney
»Established in 1987
»Based in Greenwich, London
»Services: Specialist basement
construction and civil
»No. of employees: Over 50 in
our direct workforce
»PCA – Property Care
Association approved
»ASUC – Association of
Specialist Underpinning
Contractors approved
»CHAS – Contractors Health
and Safety Assessment
Scheme approved contractor
MJ Rooney
Highlighting best practice
»Construction News Specialists
Awards – Digital Excellence
»Construction News Specialists
Awards – Training Excellence
»Construction News Specialists
Awards – Ground Engineering
Contractor of the Year
»Construction News Specialists
Awards – Specialist Contractor
of the Year
»Royal Greenwich – Employer
of the Year
»New Civil Engineer –
Technology Champion
»Ground Engineering –
Contractor of the Year
»Construction News – Company
Innovation of the Year
»Construction News Specialists
Awards – Specialist Contractor
of the Year
to such investment, however, has
actually increased teamwork, loyalty
and employee engagement, bringing
valuable gains that set us apart from
other companies not doing the
same. This year, the company was
also awarded the Royal Greenwich
Employer of the Year Award – a
testament to our investment in
training, development and well-being.
We engage in sector-specific training
through our commitment to the
government’s Construction Industry
Training Board (CITB) scheme, and
employees receive certified specialist
training to help maintain the skilled
workforce that we require.
Virtual Basements
“Virtual Basements” is our most
recent initiative to drive efficiency
and sustainability while providing
a truly unique standard of service.
The idea was simple: we wanted
to use technology to enhance our
collaboration and construction
processes and thus make our
operations safer, faster and more
cost-effective. The basic concept is
to build our basement construction
projects in a computer before we
do anything on-site. This helps to
eliminate potential problems from the
outset, but also delivers so much more
for every stakeholder involved. Virtual
Basements breaks down the process
into eight key features, including 4D
modelling, virtual reality training and
in-house app development.
The process successfully lowered build
costs on like-for-like projects, provided
a faster route in obtaining party wall
awards and delivered an exemplary
safety record with enhanced employee
training and personal development.
Overall the connection created between
clients, design teams, suppliers, on-site
workers and all other stakeholders
has provided a streamlined and safe
building process withoutdelays.
Industry safety standards
With the realisation that skills and
safety standards are significantly
lacking in the domestic basement
market, the industry has had a fair
amount of bad press recently. Fifty per
cent of all projects received notices
indicating improper adherence to
regulations the last time the Health
and Safety Executive initiated an
inspection drive on a series of London
basements. Planning permission for
basement construction has increased
by 183 per cent over recent years;
this, of course, draws inexperienced
companies and operatives into
potentially dangerous environments.
The company is actively involved in
industry-leading trade affiliations,
such as the Association of Specialist
Underpinning Contractors (ASUC)
and the Property Care Association
(PCA). Our company directors sit on
federation committees and steering
groups, which provides us with a
unique opportunity to help steer the
future of our industry and promote
best practice. We were recently invited
to speak at three major industry
conferences. This shows that an
SME like MJRooney can genuinely
contribute to raising standards and
promoting technology among itspeers.
Excavation and
temporary works to a
large Kent basement
Notable projects
Our stand-out project of this year was a
multimillion-pound basement extension
and refurbishment of an 18th-century
coach house in central London which
delivered an architectural masterpiece.
Clients’ expectations were far exceeded
by the virtual basement process
that allowed them to see everything
ahead of construction and make
the appropriate decisions. We are
very proud to have played our part
in bringing this building to life and
securing its legacy for decades tocome.
In late 2017, the company appeared
on Channel 4’s Grand Designs. The
episode demonstrated the problems
that the basement industry faces. A so-
called “basement specialist” company
made a disastrous attempt at building
a basement and walked out on the
site of a young couple’s first home.
MJRooney intervened and delivered a
safe, innovative basement showcasing
the skill set of the team and the latest
technologies we utilise.
Political obstacles
As London has become a world leader
in building multistorey basements
below its ancient historic housing and
infrastructure, there has been a recent
move by councils to ban such projects
due to community disruption. These
projects are proven to be carried out
easily by competent contractors and
the right procedures. We would love
to see more regulation in the growing
basement industry to enable it to thrive
and provide valuable housing space
Brexit’s impending impact on the labour
market is recognisable; the increased
likelihood of migration restrictions will
enforce a reduction of its European
workforce in both professional and
trade positions. Securing the rights
of UK-based European workers will
therefore be critical to the success of
our growingindustry.
With Brexit potentially altering the way
the construction industry recruits its
workforce, the company has already
taken steps to strengthen its relationship
with its European counterparts through
international exchange programmes.
The company’s partnership with the
French university ei.CESI in Montpellier
provides an invaluable opportunity
to ascertain how other European
contractors and education authorities
are embracing technology, training
and engineering. We employ interns
who join us for a few months at a time
and work alongside the entire team.
Staff share experience, innovation and
training; it really makes the company a
diverse enterprise.
Constructing the future
We pride ourselves on being able
to tailor our services to meet our
client’s specific requirements. Further
expansion and growth is planned
for 2018/19 with increased revenue
targets to match the achievements of
the past three financial years. We look
to achieve this through a well-planned
business strategy and the expansion of
our trained and skilled workforce.
With our current order book close to
capacity and exciting projects lined up
for the forthcoming year, the future
for MJRooney is looking extremely
bright indeed.
We wanted to
technology to
enhance our
Site engineers in action
with the latest industry
Eight-metre deep
shaft to form double
basement underpinning


This article was sponsored by M J Rooney. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy