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While specs do indeed mean specifications, building on spec does indeed refer to building for speculative purposes. Whatever the freedictionary says, it may not be totally up to date and language evolving as it does, I stand behind my translation.
I think you have to distinguish between "to spec", which does indeed mean "to specification", and "on spec" which means "on a speculation basis". See http://www.thefreedictionary.com/spec for more details.
Just a question - for my own future reference - I always thought the "spec" part of this phrase referred to specification, not to speculation. This answer leads me to believe I was totally wrong. Can someone confirm?
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21 mins confidence: peer agreement (net): +3
PROJECT initiated/built with no guarantee of finding a taker
Explanation: Or words to that effect. Property developers like to sell the properties they build before they build them, but obviously some still take the risk of building them first and finding buyers or tenants later.
xxxBourth Local time: 21:53 Native speaker of: English PRO pts in category: 388
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