“I wrote the spec, and I will be the judge of what it means.”
Perhaps that's a reasonable expectation by an engineer. After all, it isn't possible to put every possible nuance involved into writing. There is the spirit of the agreement to consider. And all the stakeholders involved in a project do have an implied (if not expressed) obligation of “good faith” in promoting the common goal of timely completion of a quality product.
But, alas, this is not how the courts will interpret a contract or specification having any degree of ambiguity. Having bargained to pay an exact amount, and not one penny more, the owner is entitled to expenditure and expense to meet the specification, as may be reasonably interpreted by the contractor, and not one penny more.
And as to the issue that the contractor may claim an unreasonable interpretation, in the final analysis, it is a real judge who will make that decision.
By the way, the judge is not a low-level clerk or employee beholden to the engineer, owner or contractor that drafted the contracts and specifications. The judge must first determine if enforcement of a carefully “crafted” clause is a benefit to society before determining if obligations have been discharged or breached. And a good judge (one that could not be overturned on appeal) is always cognitive that a remedy for breach should not put a party in a better position than if the obligations had been honored. After all, although proof may be difficult or impossible, the court fully understands how easy it may be for a party to “help” the other party to fail.
I have read far too many contracts and specifications which appear to slaver at the thought that the other party should fail and thus better benefit the writer of the specification.
I have read far too many where the formula which the court is directed to follow favors one side without regard to the specific facts of any dispute.
I have read far too many which appear to direct the judge how to vote.
Few are litigated, even fewer to a court of appeals where these societal duties of the judicial system are often better appreciated.
But when these specificatons are fully litigated, the obvious attempt to direct the court can backfire spectacularly.
“What’s in your specification?”