Height estimation of man-made structures in urban and suburban areas is an interesting but challenging problem, especially from single SAR image, which usually occurs in emergency response after crisis. A novel model based height estimation approach is proposed, which finds a best match between parameterized object model and the observed single intensity SAR image data. Firstly, a projection function for single bounce signal return between 3D object model and corresponding characteristic regions in SAR image is constructed, which make the model generation phase very simple and fast. Then, a new likelihood measure for the matching between the height hypothesis and the SAR data is proposed in the respect of image segmentation. The matching procedure is iterated until a global maximum similarity is achieved and then the height estimation is obtained, which is realized by the simulated annealing algorithm. The experiments performed on general terms of buildings in the simulated SAR image data set verify its validity.