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Planning and Development of Land (PDM)

Each of the 11 Councils in Portugal is responsible for its own PDM (Plano Director Municipal) which constitutes two elements:
1. A document listing all the rules pertaining to Planning and Development of the area.  
2. A map of the area demarcating the borders of each designation given. 

This PDM is subject to changes every 5 years and in many councils is not open to public viewing.

Whoever buys land or property and wants to build can ascertain the designation of such land by liaising with an architect who has a copy of the PDM or by personally paying a visit to the Council on its weekly open-day to ask the information from the City Council´s Architect. 

For those who want an answer in a written form, they can fill in a request form, called  Informaçao Previa. This does cost about 20€ and on average means a waiting time of 1 month. The information is only valid for one year and within the duration that the current PDM remains unchanged. 

If one does buy the land and wants to commence building or rebuilding, the next step is a visit to an architect to draw up your plan/project, which will need to be approved by the Council before a building licence may be applied for and hopefully issued. 

Although each property is unique in its compostion, and there are many variables, and in general the main rules of the PDM are:

On land designated as urban one may build: a home of 2 floors over 30% if the area of the land and 50% incuding outbuildings and outdoor living areas, but retaining a distance of 6m from the neighbouring  border/ building. One parking area is allowed for every 100m2 of living space. 

On land designated as agricultural reserve (RAN) one may build: a home of 2 floors over 20% of the area of the land but not exceeding 250m2. Auxillary (farm) buildings are limited to 250m2

On land designated as agricultural and less than 100m from the urban zone one may build: a home of 2 floors over 10% of the area of the land. Auxillary (farm) buildings are limited to 250m2

On land designated as agricultural but more than 100m from the urban zone one may build: a home of 2 floors over 1.5% of the area of the land. Auxillary (farm) buildings are limited to 250m2

On land designated as forested  and less than 100m from the urban zone one may build: a home of 2 floors over 10% of the area of the land. Auxillary buildings are limited to 250m2

On land designated as forested but more than 100m from the urban zone one may build: a home of 2 floors over 1.5% of the area of the land. Auxillary buildings are limited to 250m2

On land designated as ecological (REN) one may extend existent buildings by 20%

On land designated as nature reserve one may rebuild or extend existing buildings to 150m2 or by 20% if they are bigger than 150m2. One may thereafter not extend for 10 years.