Originally Posted by BCam
Hopefully JWA will chime in. He's a former body shop owner and will be able answer your question. Of course there will be a range depending on how high a quality job you want.
Alternatively you can PM him and let us know what he has to say.
I'll give it to ya straight from the horse's mouth so to speak!
Doing a "color change" could be as simple as something akin to a wrap where minimal preparation is done before the new color is applied. When my shop did an all over paint job even if the original color was retained we pretty much stripped the body done to its bare metal, things like door handles, lock cylinders trim, door & body seals and sometimes bumpers removed for a better job. This sort of process could take about 16 hours even before body work was begun.
Actually painting was the least labor intensive part of the job---all the pre- and post- work required drove the price. Some would use masking tape to avoid removing parts but honestly that can be labor intensive and unfortunately not yielding the best results; that process did not greatly reduce my pricing though.
Given today's material and labor costs a full sized E-Series done correctly could run from $5 to $7K quite easily. Sounds like a lot until you're actually in the industry.
One has to give huge consideration whether changing the color really is that big a priority. Wrapping has become a nice alternative, takes far less down time and can be changed yet again in the future. The wraps I've seen when done well look good at a distance, the short comings easily seen once up close.
For me and just for me while exterior color is something changing it after the fact is a cost I could not justify if building out an "adventure van"---there's just far too many other areas of such a build where that money could be better used.
If I had a shop today I'd do the work with the understanding there would be no fixed or set cost where the final bill would be based on time, material and additional work required as the process unfolded. The customer's budget and desires would be considered, advice offered whether their ideas were practical.
I would also not guarantee any specific time to complete, advising the customer it could take a full 30 days or so. A substantial deposit would get things started, regular updates or allowed visits from time-to-time encouraged. Once the body was in primer one last visit and inspection with last minute changes made and the finish color would be applied.
Return to customer would be made after all was re-assembled and a final customer inspection would pretty much complete the job.
Wrapping looks like better and better..............