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, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP


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 The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister