The sensitivity method is applied to update finite element models of welded and bolted joints, and the boundary condition of a cantilever plate. Careful parameterisation is found to be critical in updating the joints and boundary conditions. Updating geometric parameters has considerable potential in updating. The use of nodal offset dimensions results in an updated model of the welded joint with physical interpretation. Similarly the ‘rigid’ boundary in a cantilever plate is successfully updated using the effective length of the elements closest to the joint. In all cases an improvement on the analytical natural frequencies is demonstrated.