My advise is take your time with it, i started mine in january and still havent finished, although i have taken my time over choosing the hardware (couldnt decide on colour) although i will be putting stings on tonight to check the neck i got for it is ok, this will be the first time i will be able to play it so i'm a little excited, if it all works i will be able to send it to my mate who will do the clear coat and then ill do the electrics.
I didnt buy a kit job, i have purchased the bits seperatly as i have progressed, if you are looking for a body check out perle guitars (nate) they are based in the U S of A, but delivered to me in old blighty so may do oz as well.
As far as painting goes i painted the base coat, i think it took about 10 coats with a fine sanding inbetween each coat, first time ive ever done and it turned out awesome, smooth as a babys bottom.
Check out my thread in the js
section and you'll get to see the progress of my project.
Good luck with yours, its very rewarding doing it yourself, and you get to choose exactly what you want, just dont cut corners if you have to wait a little for the more expensive parts just wait for them dont settle for cheaper components cus you'll regret it