CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Do you have a big summertime project to do at your house? Maybe you're building a deck, remodeling the kitchen or possibly adding a nice screened-in porch? 

Before you hire a contractor, NBC Charlotte has some advice for you so you don't get ripped off. We get hundreds of emails each month, many of them saying a contractor took their money and didn't come back or they botched the job and won't come back to fix their mistakes. 

So what can you do? The answer lies in the hiring process. 

1. Don't go with the first person you meet for the job. Get at least three offers to see the differences in prices. Remember, the cheapest isn't always the best. 

2. Get a price and the time frame of the job from start to finish, estimated price and later a firm price. Don't forget references. To be perfectly clear, get all of this in writing!

3. Be sure the person you hire is licensed and insured, that's really important. And even if they're referred by someone, Google them and check with the Better Business Bureau to see if they have done business under a different name. If so, that could be a red flag. A Google search might also turn up a criminal record. That may not disqualify a contractor but it's at least good to know. 

4. If you are going to use an app-based service to refer someone to you, don't assume they have been checked out. NBC Charlotte has reported on unlicensed, uninsured and felon contractors being hired unknowingly

5. When you check the insurance, see the paperwork, don't take their word for it. We reported on one handyman painter who lied about being insured, then damaged the house and furniture by dropping paint and left the homeowner holding the bag for the cost. 

The legwork is worth the hassle.