Understanding the dynamics between cost estimation and design in the project delivery process is essential if accuracy of early stage estimates must be improved. In Australia architects are the primary designers of buildings. Yet, in the Australian context very little work has examined how architects view cost estimation in order to understand cost dynamics. A first step in ascertaining the key issues in relation to cost estimation and design is when architects engage a Quantity Surveyor. The aim is to examine the costing of the conceptual design of projects rather than focusing on professional roles between architect and QS. The point at which a QS is appointed in the design process is identified. The types of issues that arise in relation to costing and design are recognized. To do this, 1132 architects were approached and 85 surveys were received. Each respondent was asked to answer questions related to the highest value project completed by their office. The types of design issues that were acknowledged were related to finishes, construction methods and materials. Of concern was the ability of the QS to cost accurately in situations that required expert knowledge related to a location or particular building type. The results are a first step in formulating further research investigating the ongoing cost messages and costing iterations that take place during the project delivery process. Understanding this dynamic in the first instance will aid research into value management, project benchmarking studies, bidding and tendering as well as stakeholder management studies.